A concerned councillor says he’s already receiving complaints over the closure of Jarrow Walk-In Centre – and he believes there’s more to come.
The walk-in centre was relocated to a new urgent care hub at South Tyneside District Hospital in South Shields, at the end of last month.
The decision to close it, despite score of campaigners against the move, was made by the South Tyneside Clinical Commissioning Group in a bid to make annual savings of up to £2million.
However, Coun John McCabe, a Labour representative for Hebburn South, has already heard from a number of constituents who are struggling with the move.
Coun McCabe also believes the situation is set to get worse as the winter weather arrives and more people fall poorly.
He said: “Without a doubt I am expecting more emails and phone calls as the winter pressures begin.
“Just this week I have had three emails from constituents who have been left upset by their experience of the new hub.
“I think it’s only a matter of time before someone falls foul of this new service.”
One resident had complained to Coun McCabe after being issued a ParkingEye ticket at the Harton Lane site, as they hadn’t parked correctly in an emergency.
Another was upset over how long it took them and how much it cost to travel to the venue by public transport.
Coun McCabe said: “With all due respect, the decision to close the Jarrow Walk-in Centre was made by clinical directors sitting in their offices.
“They don’t realise how much a £3.60 bus fair, plus travel time, can affect a person who might not be working and who is very poorly and in need of help.
“It’s a different world for them and they don’t realise the impact this is having on people’s lives.”
Coun McCabe says he will be collecting all of the complaints he receives together and will be later presenting them to the CCG.
Dr Matthew Walmsley, a local GP and chairman of the CCG, said: “The new urgent care hub has been operating for almost a month. The service is running smoothly alongside A&E, with patients benefiting from being guided to the best service for their needs, first time.
“In partnership with South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust, we will continue to monitor the service over the coming months to ensure that it meets patient needs.
Dr Walmsley added: “It’s worth remembering that the NHS has a range of services, and stopping to consider what is the best service for your needs, as this may be seeing a GP, calling NHS 111 or getting advice from a trained pharmacist.”