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Walk in Bradford clinic 'a victim of its own success'
An axe-threatened walk-in medical centre is “a victim of its own success”, according to a new independent report.
Patients using the pioneering Hillside Bridge walk-in centre in Barkerend sing its praises and say they would not know where to go if it closed, specially-commissioned research shows.
Health chiefs are considering the future of the walk-in centre, once its contract comes to an end next March.
They commissioned the firm Ipsos-MORI and the Health Partnership Project to research who was using the clinic, and why. Early findings reveal:
* there was strong demand for face-to-face medical consultations outside of normal working hours
* many patients had been referred to the walk-in centre via helplines such as NHS 111, or by pharmacists, especially at weekends
* most were first-time visitors and three-quarters believed their medical condition to be urgent
* many people had not been able to get a normal GP appointment, but hadn’t wanted to visit A&E
* in contrast, awareness of the centre among hard-to-reach groups such as travellers or the homeless was low. Those who had used it reported negative experiences and said they preferred specialist clinics held elsewhere, such as at homeless drop-ins.
The report said sometimes patients were choosing to go to the centre because it was more convenient than their GP. It suggested instead of allocating on-the-day appointments on a ‘first come first served’ basis, there should be a triage process assessing patients so those in the greatest need were treated first.
It said: “It could be said that the walk-in centre is a victim of its own success – it is so convenient for patients that they feel encouraged to use it as a replacement for the GP.”
Ward councillor Hassan Khan (Lab, Bowling and Barkerend), who has been campaigning to save the centre, said the report proved how important it was. He said: “Every Saturday and Sunday you see people queueing up outside Hillside Bridge.”
Bradford’s three Clinical Commissioning Groups are due to make a decision on the centre by the end of the year. The report will be considered by Bradford Council’s health and social care overview and scrutiny committee when it meets on Thursday.
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