Earlier this week, NHS bosses made the controversial and deeply unpopular decision to close the Lincoln Walk-In-Centre after the winter period. So despite all the negative publicity, campaigns and demonstrations, what actually drove them to close the popular and well-used service?
Lincolnshire West CCG’s governing body approved the closure of the centre which has been open since 2009 in a meeting at the Ruston Sports and Social Club on Wednesday, September 27.
What made the decision all the more galling for campaigners was that a remarkable 94% of respondents to the CCG’s consultation said that the closure was a bad idea.
Campaigners made their feelings known at the meeting, and came prepared beforehand with a pile of bull dung, spiked with placards reading “STPs”, and “minimal impact to A&E”.
Unsurprisingly perhaps, Lincoln residents were less than impressed by the decision.
Kelly Hunstone said: “What really bothers me about all this is the pointless public consultation they went through.
“Why ask the public what they think and then ignore what the majority (94%) say they want.
“This stinks. Stop wasting our time and taxpayers’ money taking us through a sham process.”
Deborah Teasdale said: “We have looked… We have listened… We have ignored..”
Rose Bird added: “I bet none of them have had the need to visit the Walk-In-Centre!
“It’s alright saying there will be more doctors appointments available. I’ll believe that when I see it, but we don’t all fall conveniently ill during doctors’ hours.”
Disappointment at the decision was not confined to members of the public.
City of Lincoln Council leader Ric Metcalfe said: “This outcome is very disappointing. It was quite clear that there was not a strong enough case to warrant the walk-in-centre’s closure.
“The centre provides a very efficient service and represents good value for money in terms of an accessible service. It was in high-demand and I am unconvinced that GP surgeries have the capacity or the accessibility required to provide a comparable service.
“Many GPs are overstretched and unable to provide the same-day service that many users of the centre require and this could easily add an increased strain to the A&E service at Lincoln County Hospital.
“I would hope that the NHS reconsiders the decision but it has been made as a direct consequence of severe under-funding of the health care system.”
New Lincoln MP Karen Lee added: “My position has always been ensuring that the right provisions are in place for the patients. If you change something you have to make sure that something else is in its place.
“At the minute we have had no assurances that other primary care services have been beefed up enough so it seems very soon.”
Despite all the criticisms and negative publicity, Lincolnshire West CCG continues to insist that closing the centre is “the right thing to do”.
Chief Operating Officer Sarah-Jane Mills said: “What we’ve done is looked and listened and really spoken and understood the concerns people have raised.”
Lay Chair of the Lincolnshire West CCG governing body Richard Childs said that the closure in the new year would allow time to enhance the primary care services and raise public awareness of alternative provision available.
CCG papers released before the meeting also indicated that members were confident that needs of patients using the centre could be met by other “mainstream primary care services”.
What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments below or by emailing [email protected]
Stefan is the Local Democracy Reporter covering Greater Lincolnshire. You can contact him directly with your news via email at [email protected]