LABOUR Party members in South Tyneside are hoping a Tory minister will halt the closure of a popular borough health centre.
Jarrow Constituency Labour Party is appealing against a decision to shut down the Walk-In Centre at Palmer’s Hospital in Jarrow to government Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt.
The appeal centres on an alleged lack of consultation by the borough’s Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) over the decision.
Concerns have also been raised that patients will now have long journeys on public transport if the service is transferred to a single hub at South Tyneside District Hospital, in Harton Lane, South Shields.
In a letter to the minister, Wilf Flynn, secretary of Jarrow’s Constituency Labour Party, also expresses fears that patients will be “tempted to self-administer” because of the difficulties in making their way to the hospital.
The action is part of a two-pronged bid to block the closure.
Last week members of South Tyneside Council’s Overview and Scrutiny Call In Committee also agreed to refer the decision to the Secretary of State.
In the letter to the minister, Mr Flynn says: “The consultation was launched on May 28 this year at the monastic site of St Bede in Jarrow, an area inaccessible to many with no follow-up meetings planned.
“It was only due to pressure from the Labour Party and other community groups that other meetings took place and the consultation paper was made more widely available, not by the Clinical Commissioning Group, but by the Labour Party.”
It adds: “The decision to close the Walk-in Centre renders people of the Mid-Tyne area having to travel to the South Tyneside District Hospital, by means of public transport.
“Traffic congestion makes this journey last one hour and a half when it is time-tabled for one hour and 10 minutes.
“Because of travel difficulties to the hub, people will be tempted to self-administer. Even putting on a wet dressing when a dry one should be used will lead to complications and even further visits to the district hospital will be required.
“It is for reasons of flawed consultation in quality and quantity and the detrimental effect on people’s health as outlined, Jarrow Constituency Labour Party request you as Secretary of State for Health to review and overturn the NHS South Tyneside Clinical Commissioning Group decision and allow the Walk In Centre facility to remain in Palmer’s Hospital in Jarrow.”
The CCG has expressed disappointment at the referral of the decision.
Dr Matthew Walmsley, a local GP and Chairman of South Tyneside CCG, said the transfer of the service to a single hub was in the “best interests of the people of South Tyneside”.