Chelmsford’s NHS walk-in centre, which is next to Sainsbury’s in Springfield, is closing.
The walk-in service has provided an invaluable service to local residents and families who need to see a doctor urgently, but are not suffering an emergency situation. The walk-in centre sees around 30,000 patients a year.
Appointments were made when patients called a GP surgery out-of-hours; the walk-in centre could see people at weekends and in the evening. Also, patients could arrive without an appointment.
Earlier this year the government announced plans to open GP surgeries at weekends (although GPs were not pleased). Even if GP services are extended to weekends this closure will leave a gap in the service; also, weekend GP opening has not yet been agreed.
There are concerns that the closure of this centre will lead to more people going to A&E at Broomfield, putting accident and emergency staff and resources under more pressure.
The NHS website explains how walk-in centres are “a successful complementary service to traditional GP and A&E services” and provide “convenient access to a range of treatments”.
Donald McGeachy, the medical director of NHS North Essex, explained that this closure is a part of a five year plan to enhance the way health care is delivered in Essex. NHS North Essex will be working with GPs to find news ways to improve their services (possibly longer opening hours) and other ways to expand support and advice, such as with greater use of pharmacies and NHS 111.
Donald McGeachy said that moving the Out of Hours GP service to Broomfield Hospital will give patients a faster service. For example, if a patient needed a blood test, this could be carried out immediately, and likewise, if a patient was in need of emergency treatment, this too could be handled much more effectively.
“If you need urgent care, you can see the right people in the right place, first time” – Donald McGeachy
If all goes according to plan, the new system may take the pressure off Accident and Emergency services, if non-emergency cases can be quickly sent on to the new Out of Hours GP service to Broomfield Hospital.
It does seem a shame to lose such a great service from the town, but hopefully in the long run we will have a better health system.
A very good point was made below – Sainsburys car park is free whereas Broomfield hospital charge for visits longer than 15 minutes (which is most visits other than drop-offs and pick-ups).