The CEO of the trust responsible for running the Lincoln Walk-in-Centre has spoken out against plans to close the facility, claiming sufficient alternatives are not in place and the city’s A&E would be hit with extra patients.
Lincolnshire Community Health Services NHS Trust CEO Andrew Morgan spoke to The Lincolnite ahead of the consultation deadline on Friday, August 18.
The trust is contracted by Lincolnshire West CCG (the body behind the proposals) to run the service.
If plans are approved, the centre, which is currently open seven days a week 8am to 8pm and sees almost 40,000 patients a year, could close as soon as the Autumn.
Andrew Morgan told reporters he was not surprised by the fierce reaction the plans has received by the public and other governing bodies.
He defended the service, adding that it’s highly rated by users, “well attended and well regarded”.
“We are saying in our formal response that we cannot support the proposals on the basis that we don’t think that the alternatives being proposed are robust or worked up enough. We want assurance that if you take the service away that those other things will be available.
“The fear is people will then revert to going to an A&E department that’s already really busy, that’s already struggling with performance.”
He said the busiest times recorded at the centre are during evenings, weekends and bank holidays. “We don’t know at the moment who is going to soak up that service. Our fear is the A&E department”, he added.
See the full interview:
“If I was CEO at Lincoln County I would be concerned about any movement of patients from the walk-in to the A&E, for a service that’s already not hitting standards… I’d be worried.”
Andrew Morgan was also asked about claims by Lincolnshire West Clinical Commissioning Group that 95% of walk-in-centre users required no investigation or minor treatment.
He said: “The high percentage is a coding issue. ‘Gave advice’ can cover a multitude of different things.
“That quote has upset a number of our practitioners it’s fair to say. They felt that minimised the service they were providing.”
The CCG has argued previously that the service creates ‘duplication’, and would be replaced with improvements to self-care services, like 111, and longer opening hours at local GPs. They could not promise GPs in the area were able to offer the same hours as the centre before its potential closure.
- Over 5,500 people have signed an online petition set up against ‘short-sighted’ proposals by campaigners.
- Over 1,200 University of Lincoln students also signed a petition set up by the university’s SU. They argued the service provided valued care for students.
- Residents attended two protests in the city in a show of objection to the plans.
- Lincolnshire County Council’s Health Scrutiny Committee unanimously opposed the proposals, stating they would call in concerns to the Secretary of State for Health Jeremy Hunt if deemed necessary once a decision has been made.
- Lincoln councillors also called for the centre to stay open until a robust replacement is found.
- ULHT CEO Jan Sobieraj said the trust would support the move in principle, but admitted the closure could result in an increase in A&E attendances.