THE relocation of a health centre in South Tyneside is a “disaster waiting to happen” says a would-be MP.
UKIP’s Steve Harrison, who will be bidding to become Jarrow MP in May’s general election, believes the decision to replace the walk-in centre at Palmer Community Hospital, in Jarrow, later this year with a new urgent care hub at South Tyneside District Hospital, in South Shields, will just make accident and emergency waiting times even longer.
Health bosses deny that, saying, if anything, it will free up staff.
Mr Harrison said: “Recent figures show that people are having to wait longer than ever before.
“When the walk-in centre, in Jarrow, closes, the 27,000 people who annually go there will be arriving in South Shields, and will make the situation even worse. This a disaster waiting to happen.”
Presently the emergency unit at the hospital, in Harton Lane, South Shields, is falling below the Government target of having 95 per cent of patients referred, admitted or discharged within four hours.
Most recent figures, for the week ending January 4, show the hospital was achieving 74.2 per cent.
Dr Matthew Walmsley, chairman of NHS South Tyneside Clinical Commissioning Group, says Mr Harrison’s claims are incorrect.
He said: “The changes to urgent care services will not cause problems for A&E – in fact, quite the opposite.
“The Jarrow walk-in centre will become part of a single urgent care hub at the hospital site, making it possible to run both services more efficiently. Let’s be clear that this decision was based on hard evidence from around the country about the most clinically effective models of health care, and it is disappointing to see it used for political ends.
“A&E services nationally are under immense pressure, with an increase in respiratory illnesses on top of major increases in demand due to an ageing population and long-term conditions like diabetes.
He added: “With the walk-in centre on the same site as A&E, patients will come through a single front door and be guided to the best service for their needs.
“That will free up A&E staff to concentrate on genuine emergency cases.”