Mid Essex Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) yesterday (27 November) approved a recommendation to close the walk-in service located at the North Chelmsford Healthcare Centre in Springfield, Chelmsford when the current contract finishes in March 2015. This does not include the GP practice based on site.
The main objective of the walk-in service, which opened in 2010-11, was to reduce the number of A&E attendances. In fact, the number of attendances at A&E has increased in the past three years.
The walk-in service was also designed to widen access to GP services, especially for people who are not registered for the local GP.
When reviewing the activity, most people visiting the walk in service were already registered with a GP responsible for their care. The majority of visits were for minor problems that could be managed with the advice of their own GP or a local pharmacist - so in effect the NHS is paying twice for health care.
In taking the decision, the Governing Body also paid regard to the consultation that ran earlier this year about its plans for Immediate Care.
Feedback to this consultation suggested that, while there were strong feelings about the potential closure of walk-in services at the North Chelmsford Healthcare Centre in Springfield, responses suggested that a change in the model of immediate care could gain strong support if it brought more care closer to home.
The CCG made its decision as part of a larger-scale plan to transform the way immediate care is offered throughout the area over the next two to five years.
Dr Donald McGeachy, Medical Director of Mid Essex Clinical Commissioning Group, said:
“In taking its decision the Board paid regard to the feelings of the public from the consultation we carried out earlier in the year. However, this was balanced against a thorough review of the activity at the walk in service which indicates that it hasn’t succeeded in its primary aim of reducing A&E attendance.
“This isn’t a decision that should be seen in isolation though. The closure of the walk in service is part of the CCG’s overall vision to transform immediate care services in mid Essex over the next two to five years.
“Our transformation plans include the ongoing development of NHS 111, improving access to primary care services including GP in and out-of-hours, enhanced services in pharmacies, improved self-care and the creation of an urgent care centre. We want to make sure people in mid Essex get the right service, in the right place, first time.”