Trailblazing NHS walk-in centre may be axed after just five years (From Bradford Telegraph and Argus)
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Trailblazing NHS walk-in centre may be axed after just five years
A trailblazing NHS walk-in centre which opened only five years ago could face the axe.
Hillside Bridge health centre in Barkerend, Bradford, was opened with much fanfare in 2008 by then health secretary Alan Johnson.
It provides medical advice seven days a week for those who are either not registered with a GP locally, or who are but cannot get an appointment.
It was the first of its kind in the country, and was followed by 151 more, in a national investment of £250 million aimed at making GPs more accessible.
At the time, Mr Johnson said patients should be able to get doctors’ appointments more easily and at times that suited them, not their GPs.
The centres were also designed to reduce the number of people turning up unnecessarily at A&E.
But health bosses are now considering closing the Barkerend centre, revealing that in the first three years of its contract, local A&E attendences actually increased by 13.8 per cent.
A report by Vicki Wallace, commissioning manager at the newly-formed Bradford Districts clinical commissioning group, said the centre had also struggled to attract patients most in need.
It said: “A key objective was to provide a facility which would be used by the most deprived and socially excluded. However, analysis highlighted that these groups were using it rarely, and heavy users were patients of local practices.”
The report to Bradford Council’s Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee on Thursday said the NHS was effectively having to pay twice for such patients to get medical treatment.
The centre had its hours halved in 2011. But the report says now even fewer vulnerable patients are visiting.
The contract ends in November and health bosses are considering four options – axeing it ,keeping it running on a reduced budget, moving it to another location, or commissioning an alternative service for non-registered patients only. It is now planning a three-month public consultation.