News that the Lincoln Walk-In-Centre will controversially close at the end of February has angered campaigners, with under-fire NHS bosses reassuring patients that services will actually be enhanced by the decision.
Members of Lincolnshire West Clinical Commissioning Group’s governing body voted through the closure of the walk-in-centre at a meeting at The Showroom in Lincoln at Wednesday, January 24.
Opening hours will be reduced to weekends from the start of February, as part of a phased closure of the centre.
An extension of the out of hours service will be provided from March 1 through to the middle of April.
Sarah-Jane Mills, who is the chief operating officer at Lincolnshire West Clinical Commissioning Group, said that it was “inevitable” that change was necessary but insisted services for patients will be “enhanced”.
She said: “We listened very carefully to the feedback and through this consultation not only have we been able to satisfy that the services are there but that those services have been enhanced.
“Whilst I understand people are anxious about change, I think it is inevitable that we need to change in order to develop.
“The walk-in-centre costs £1.2 million a year.
“It is incumbent on us to make sure we spend public money wisely.”
The imminent closure of the walk-in-centre has proved to be a controversial topic since the plans revealed last summer.
A consultation exercise run by Lincolnshire West CCG saw 94% of respondents say that they were opposed to the closure.
Protests were held outside Lincoln County Hospital and along High Street, with both Conservative-led Lincolnshire County Council and Labour-controlled City of Lincoln Council formally objecting to the closure.
When asked by Lincolnshire Reporter if she could name anyone outside of the NHS in Lincolnshire who supported the closure, Sarah-Jane Mills added: “No, I can’t name somebody explicitly.”
Campaigners at the meeting held at The Showroom in Lincoln on Wednesday, January 24, were not as positive about the changes.
Veteran health campaigner Frank Slater said that he was “disgusted”.
He added: “It’s what I expected. This has been in the pipeline for years.”
Former general election candidate in Lincoln, Elaine Smith, said: “I had to stop listening actually because I felt as if I was Alice in Wonderland and there were Mad Hatters having a tea party.
“They’ve not listened to the 94% of people who did not want the walk-in-centre to close.”
Patients who use the walk-in-centre were also unimpressed by the news.
Molly Wallhead said: “The script was written… and now we wait for the fallout. It is us, the public who will suffer and we pay for it! It’s our walk-in centre, it’s our NHS.
“We are the ones that actually use the service and witness first hand how essential it is. In no way can I see how the closure can be of benefit to anyone, patient or care provider alike.”
Chris Wright added: “The most ridiculous decision ever made about healthcare in Lincoln. Not all of us can afford private healthcare!”