Health chief hits back at MP over Jarrow walk-in centre plans

The walk-in centre in the grounds of Palmer's Community Hospital in Jarrow.
The walk-in centre in the grounds of Palmer's Community Hospital in Jarrow.

A health boss has hit back at an MP’s concerns over the future of a South Tyneside health service after the issue was raised in the House of Commons.

Jarrow MP Stephen Hepburn made a plea in Parliament last week for a debate on the future of walk-in centres nationally.

We are working to review access to GPs

Dr Matthew Walmsley

It comes amid his opposition to plans to relocate Jarrow Walk-in Centre at Palmer’s Community Hospital to the borough’s district hospital.

Mr Hepburn blamed the planned closure on “unaccountable management” in his Commons statement and highlighted the 27,000 visitors to the facility each year.

But his plea to Chris Grayling, the Conservative Leader of the House, appeared to fall on deaf ears.

Now Dr Matthew Walmsley, a local GP and chairman of NHS South Tyneside Clinical Commissioning Group – the body driving forward the switch – has addressed the MP’s concerns and defended the relocation plans.

He said: “We are aware of Mr Hepburn’s concerns and carried out detailed consultation with local people which helped to highlight a number of issues which we are working to tackle before the relocation can go ahead.

“We are working to review access to GPs and also raise awareness of the advice available from pharmacists, who can help with a range of common health problems and save patients having to make an appointment.

“All the evidence from around the country shows that by having walk-in services on the same site as A&E, patients can be guided to the best service for their needs, so that A&E staff can concentrate on real emergencies.”