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MP makes Commons plea over Jarrow walk-in centre closure

MP Stephen Hepburn has vowed to fight on over the walk-in centre at Palmer's Community Hospital.
MP Stephen Hepburn has vowed to fight on over the walk-in centre at Palmer's Community Hospital.

JARROW Labour MP Stephen Hepburn has gone to the top in his battle to secure the future of a town health centre which is earmarked for closure.

Mr Hepburn has been at the forefront of a bid to keep open Jarrow Walk-in Centre at Palmer’s Community Hospital.

NHS South Tyneside Clinical Commissioning Group plans to move the service to the borough’s district hospital later this year.

Mr Hepburn, who spoke at a public rally at Jarrow Town Hall in March in support of saving the centre, is not giving up on the battle.

He took his fight to the House of Commons, asking Conservative Chris Grayling, the Leader of the House, for a debate to be staged on the future of walk-in centres nationally.

Mr Grayling’s response appeared to dampen any hopes of a debate – while taking a swipe at Labour’s health policies.

Mr Hepburn said: “Will the Leader of the House secure an urgent, early debate on the future of NHS walk-in centres, which were opened by a Labour government and a quarter of which have been closed by this Government?

“The one is Jarrow is due to close, because of unaccountable management, and 27,000 people are going to be dumped on local GP surgeries that are already overburdened.”

In reply, Mr Grayling said: “The honourable gentleman has already had the opportunity this week to raise this matter, in Tuesday’s health debate.

“This Government have already increased spending on the health service and we are committed to spending a further £8 billion extra on it.

“We are, as yet, uncertain what his party’s policy is.”