NHS chief claims services will be enhanced after Lincoln Walk-In-Centre closure

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A senior Lincolnshire NHS chief has insisted that services for patients will be “enhanced” following the closure of the Lincoln Walk-In-Centre.

Sarah-Jane Mills, who is the chief operating officer at Lincolnshire West Clinical Commissioning Group, said that it was “inevitable” that change was necessary to develop services.

The Lincolnshire West CCG Governing Body agreed to close the Lincoln Walk-In-Centre at the end of February. Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

She spoke to The Lincolnite following the decision of the CCG’s governing body to close the centre at the end of February.

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, Chief Operating Officer at Lincolnshire West CCG. Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

Sarah-Jane Mills 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 The Lincolnite 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.”

‘I’m disgusted’

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.”