Health watchdog unanimously opposes Lincoln Walk-in-Centre closure plans

The Lincolnshire County Council Health Scrutiny Committee has voted unanimously in opposition to plans that would see the Lincoln Walk-In-Centre closed for good.

The committee met on the morning of Wednesday, July 19 in order to question executives from Lincolnshire West CCG over the proposals.

Dr Sunil Hindocha, Chief Clinical Officer at the CCG and Wendy Martin, Executive Lead Nurse and Midwife presented plans to the committee, stating that work was ongoing to build on and improve alternative services such as GP access, the 111 telephone service and self-care support.

They added that, if plans are approved, the centre could close in the Autumn at the earliest.

Some 2,200 people have so far responded to the consultation, it was revealed in the meeting. (Click here to have your say).

Following the presentation, members of the committee gave passionate responses to the handling of the consultation on the plans, due to end in August, many expressing decided opposition and scepticism.

While praise was given to plans to improve GP access and launch dedicated phone lines for parents and carers, many raised concerns that alternative provisions were not substantive enough to replace the walk-in service currently available seven days a week, pointing also to a regularly cited shortage of GPs in the county.

In response to assurances from the CCG that work was ongoing to develop and extend GP opening hours, many expressed the opinion that alternatives needed to be in place long before the centre is closed.

Others said they were of the view that extra demand would be placed on under-pressure accident and emergency services in the county if the centre were to close, stating studies in other areas of the country where NHS walk-in-centres had closed had seen A&E attendance rises of between 20% and 25%.

Dr Sunil Hindocha warned that figures should not be correlated with one another as there had been general rises in A&E attendances.

In conclusion, members raised significant concerns that the move would result in added pressures on local hospitals. They called for “cast iron guarantees” that other services would replace or enhance the current provisions of the walk-in-centre and would be fully up and running if and before the centre is closed.

Now the the health scrutiny committee has voted against the proposals, it has the power to call in its concerns to the Secretary of State for Health Jeremy Hunt if deemed necessary once decisions have been made.