March 14, 2018 8.19 am This story is over 42 months old

Karen Lee: I won’t give up on our Lincoln Walk-in Centre

“Yet another broken promise by the Conservative government,” writes the Lincoln MP.

One of the first big local issues I became involved in immediately after my election last summer was the proposed closure of our Lincoln Walk-In Centre. I received emails and letters from hundreds of constituents protesting that they did not wish to see this happen, often telling me of their personal experiences and reasons why they felt it needed to remain open.

A consultation then took place. The results reinforced what has been coming through my mailbox: that people do not feel sufficiently reassured that should our walk-in centre close, there will be sufficient measures in place to replace the loss of local services.

The results of the consultation showed that 94% of respondents were opposed to closure. If this had been a meaningful consultation, you would have expected the CCG to revaluate their decision. Unfortunately, this was not the case, as they decided that they were right and the community they serve were wrong.

During the following months I spoke with local constituents about how they felt the closure would affect them, and I went on several marches protesting against the centre being closed. I also met a number of times with representatives of the local CCG, making it very clear that my constituents were not happy with the closure.

I asked for a list of all the GP practices for the whole of my constituency, alongside the times, days and location of the extra GP provision we were being told would be put in place. I still have not received the full information I requested.

I tried ringing my own GP for an appointment last month and was told nothing was available — the phone lines at my GP surgery opened that day at 8am and all appointments had gone by 8.20am. This reinforced what my constituents tell me about how difficult it can be to get a GP appointment.

In January I went out on a shift with a local ambulance crew, to see what the situation is on the ground. Statistics show ambulances regularly wait for hours to admit a patient to A&E, and it is deeply worrying that ULHT missed its A&E target for admitting or treating a patient in four hours by more than 25%.

Sadly, as an opposition MP I am not as effective in reversing the decision as I would be in government. I am however someone who will fight hard on behalf of my constituents to represent their wishes and for what I believe is right.

I decided to take the issue to the highest possible authority, and on January 31 I stood up at Prime Ministers Question Time and requested a meeting with a minister to ask for the decision to be reviewed. I was promised a meeting by David Lidington MP who was standing in for the PM, who wasn’t in the House of Commons on that day.

After waiting until early March for a date for this meeting, I stood up in the chamber and asked how I could elicit a response to my request. I finally received a letter on March 12, which repeated the same information the CCG had already given me, and advised me that “if you have any further concerns on this matter I would encourage you to raise them with the CCG.”

Unfortunately, the date for the meeting that I was assured in the chamber of the House of Commons by David Lidington MP has not be given to me, and the government have not stuck to the promise I was given on the floor of the House of Commons.

I have now written to Steve Brine MP to remind the government that I was promised a meeting, and that I still wish to have that meeting. I am insisting that they keep their word, and should they not, I will take further advice to find out if I can make this happen. It should be a matter of shame to the government that they give a promise in the House of Commons which they then renege upon.

I would finish by saying that as a nurse, I have always been proud to be part of our NHS. I have always spoken up for our NHS and I do try to work closely with ULHT. We must fight to stop what is happening. The closure of Lincoln’s Walk-In Centre is a glaring local example of how the Conservative government is running our NHS into the ground.

I promise my constituents that I will continue to hold this government to account and represent their calls for adequate local health services. I was assured at PMQs that a minister would meet me — let us see if they will keep their word.

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Karen Lee was elected as the Labour MP for Lincoln in 2017.