Almost 2,000 people have signed a petition since the announcement to possibly close down a Lincoln Walk-in-Centre.
Dean Graham set up the petition yesterday, Monday, June 13 after the NHS announced plans for the Monks Road site.
In the petition, which has so far received 1,951 supporters, he says: “A city the size of Lincoln needs more vital services, not the closure of the only service of its type for more than 100,000 people in the city and surrounding villages.
“The NHS 111 service is very poor, almost always suggesting making an appointment with your GP unless its an emergency — and we all know the process for booking an appointment with your GP is almost impossible unless you’re prepared to call dozens of times at 7:59am and are then forced to negotiate with the receptionist to get an appointment within the next fortnight.
“The proposed alternatives put forward in replacement of the walk-in-centre are woefully inadequate, especially considering the number of users who rely on this service as the only viable alternative to waiting weeks to see their own GP.
“Access to a GP should be a right not a privilege and with several local GP practices having already been closed in the Lincoln area in the past few years, this goes a step too far.
“The closure of the Lincoln Walk-in Centre will also put extra pressure on the already stretched A&E department at Lincoln County Hospital, which has not reached its waiting times targets for several years and is still severely understaffed.
“The overnight closure of the Grantham A&E department has made things even worse for Lincoln County.
“We need to let Lincolnshire West CCG know that the lives of our community are more important than a quick win on achieving their targeted savings.”
The NHS says a review of the service at the centre in Monks Road suggests the majority of users do not need to be there and could be treated elsewhere.
NHS Lincolnshire West Clinical Commissioning Group has launched a public consultation with patients and stakeholders around replacing services at the centre with extended hours in alternative GP surgeries, an enhanced NHS 111 service and supporting people to self-manage their health conditions.
Patients are being encouraged to share their views on the proposed future model for urgent, non-emergency care – focusing on working towards offering extended access to GP services, seven days a week.
Following a review of the service, evidence suggests most of the users at the Monks Road site are either students and/or patients registered with Lincoln city centre medical practices.
Research indicates 95 per cent of Lincoln Walk-in-Centre users required no investigation or treatment, or received minor treatment for minor ailments.
The latter includes help for minor illnesses such as a cold, headache or conjunctivitis – which could be treated using over the counter medicines from pharmacies.
Proposed are these following alternatives:
- Convenient student access to GP practices close to Lincoln College and Lincoln University. This will include Skype consultations and drop-in opportunities.
- Same day access to GP services for children – where clinically appropriate.
- Same day access for more urgent cases.
- Working towards seven day GP services – via a hub of several practices.
- Enhanced NHS 111 service. Talk before you walk by calling NHS 111 for medical advice where you need medical guidance fast but it is not an emergency.
- Continued promotion of self-care tips around minor illnesses like colds, conjunctivitis, headaches and diarrhoea.
- Utilisation of local pharmacies for simple health and care advice.
- Out of hours GP service.
Wendy Martin, executive lead nurse, midwife and quality at NHS Lincolnshire West CCG, said: “These proposals focus on ensuring patients are seen in the right place, at the right time and by the right people.
“We want to simplify services, reduce duplication and ensure the free-to-call NHS 111 is used to access urgent care services.
“Our services must change to reflect the growing demands of our local population and be in line with Government policy which says that seven-day access to a GP for routine appointments must be in place within the next three years. This links to the GP Forward View document.
“We must reduce duplication and for this reason we cannot offer extended access to routine GP services every day during the week and also sustain the Lincoln Walk-in-Centre. So it is proposed we close the Walk-in-Centre and focus on primary care.
“Walk-in centres create demand for care for self-limiting, minor conditions and evidence suggests resources would be better spent on other priorities.
“We completely understand replacing the Walk-in-Centre may disappoint some people but we are confident our proposals to improve access to GP services, with our GPs working more closely together, we can ensure people have access to a GP when they need one. Similar steps have already been taken in other parts of the country.
“NHS Lincolnshire West CCG remains committed to ensuring patients can continue to access good quality health services.
“It is vitally important we capture views before a formal decision is made by the CCG and I would encourage people to have their say.”
But 89-year-old Peter Harvey from Washingborough says the walk-in-centre is “useful” and that “a lot of people use it”.
He told Lincolnshire Live: “People will go to A&E instead.
“Community health people are not happy. NHS Lincolnshire West CCG seem to be running the show.
“We have used it [the Walk-in-Centre] in the past, particularly at weekends when GPs are not there.
“There is nowhere else to go and if A&E are stuffed with people, nothing else happens.
“I’m hoping to get enough protest. It’s a loss for the community if it shuts down.
“Myself and my wife were going abroad once and we realised her medicine had run out. The walk-in-centre enabled her to get a prescription over the weekend.
“It’s a very useful place to have. Local people drop in there and use it.
“People come from further afield and it’s a good service.
“Anyone in the Lincoln area has access to it.
“The NHS are probably just doing it to save money.”
A consultation will run for eight weeks from Monday, June 12 until Sunday, August 6. People will be able to give their views in four different ways:
- Three drop-in events at Abbey Access Training Centre, Monks Road, Lincoln, LN2 5HU. They will be held on June 27 (11am-1pm), June 28 (3pm-5pm) and June 29 (7pm-9pm).
- By filling in an online survey at: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/wic-consultation
- By emailing them at email@example.com
- Or you can write to them at NHS Lincolnshire West Clinical Commissioning Group, Cross O’Cliff, Bracebridge Heath, Lincoln, LN4 2HN.
Patients can contact the Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) on 0845 602 4384 between 9am and 5pm Monday to Friday.
PALS provides confidential advice and support to patients, carers and relatives and can help with providing information about other surgeries people can register with.