HEALTH chiefs plan to close the walk-in centre at Jarrow’s Palmer Community Hospital next year, with non-emergency services transferring to South Tyneside District Hospital in South Shields.
CHRIS MAXWELL asked the facility’s users what they think.
ANGRY patients have delivered a damning verdict on the decision to close a walk-in health centre in South Tyneside.
Jarrow’s walk-in centre, at Palmer Community Hospital, will close its doors next year, with its non-emergency services being transferred to a new urgent care hub at the South Tyneside District Hospital site in South Shields.
The move was announced by NHS South Tyneside Clinical Commissioning Group’s governing body during a public meeting at Bede’s World in Jarrow.
Health chiefs aims to reduce the number of unnecessary visits to accident and emergency units in a bid to save up to £2m a year.
But residents fear the closure of the centre will remove a vital health facility, particularly needed by elderly residents and those who don’t have access to a car.
Stuart Scott, 76, of Monkton Terrace, Jarrow, said: “I worry about the elderly people especially.
“Everything seems to be getting taken away from the town.
“They have got to think about the elderly people.
“It will be difficult for a lot of people who use the walk-in centre to get to South Tyneside District Hospital.
“I have yet to hear from anyone who is in favour of this decision.
“If I need medical treatment what will I do? I will have to ring for an ambulance to get me to the hospital.”
Ian Varty, 67, of Hedworth, Jarrow, says health bosses should have promoted the services on offer at the walk-in centre rather than centralising them in South Shields.
He said: “I think it’s a bad idea. They are closing this centre down, but did enough people actually know that it was here?
“If its services had been promoted better, perhaps more people would have used it, and there wouldn’t be a need to close it down.
“Thankfully, I have stayed out of ill health and haven’t had to use the walk-in centre, but a lot of people in the town use it regularly.”
Valerie Varey, 75, a resident at the Nolan Hall retirement home, in Jarrow, added: “I use it quite regularly. Where will I go now?
“How can I go all the way to South Tyneside District Hospital? I suffer from arthritis and can’t just jump on a bus.”
Hazel Martin, 67, of Hebburn, said: “I think it is disgusting.
“No consideration has been given to the people who use the walk-in centre both in Jarrow and those who come up from Hebburn.
“I am lucky in that I have a car and can travel down to South Shields, but for a lot of elderly people, it will be a real trek.
“Those who will suffer are the elderly people who have put the most in, those who have been paying for the National Health Service since 1948. This is what they get for paying in for so many years.”
Stacey Watson, 37, a mum of three from Jarrow’s Lakes Estate, said: “It is a very bad decision. I can’t drive, so I use the walk-in centre quite a lot.
“My son recently hurt his foot, and I was able to get him seen at the walk-in centre.
“Now, I will have to go all the way to South Shields.”
Roy Hicks, 82, of Hebburn, added: “The whole idea of the walk-in centre is to take pressure off the doctors and make sure people aren’t using the A&E service when they don’t need to.
“I can’t understand why you would close a centre being used for that role.
“It makes no sense to me.”