Public meeting over walk-in centre closure plan

PALMER HOSPITAL ... the walk-in centre based there could face closure under health shake-up plans.
PALMER HOSPITAL ... the walk-in centre based there could face closure under health shake-up plans.

CONTROVERSIAL plans to close a walk-in centre at Palmer Hospital in Jarrow will come under public scrutiny again on Monday.

People are invited to the Millenium Phab Club in the town’s Grange Road, to hear about how treatment for patients could be “significantly improved” through the creation of a new urgent care hub in South Shields.

That is not a view shared by Jarrow MP Stephen Hepburn, who is leading a campaign against the walk-in centre’s closure.

NHS South Tyneside Clinical Commissioning Group, the body responsible for the planning and buying of local health services, started a public consultation over the plans in May.

It is seeking views on a range of proposals that will “help local doctors and nurses provide the best possible care for patients with an urgent care need”.

Urgent care is any form of medical care needed quickly but not requiring a hospital stay or a visit to an accident and emergency (A&E) unit.

The sorts of services included are the NHS 111 telephone line, GP practices, doctors’ out-of-hours cover, community pharmacies and walk in centres.

The consultation exercise is centred around proposals to open a one-stop urgent care hub at South Tyneside General Hospital and closing Jarrow’s walk-in centre when its contract ends in May next year.

Dr David Hambleton, chief officer of the commissioning group, said: “We know that the way urgent health care services in South Tyneside are arranged is not helping patients understand where to go or be signposted to the right service for the right level of care or providing an obvious and easily-accessible alternative to A&E.

“Many patients who go to A&E at South Tyneside General Hospital or call 999 for an emergency ambulance do not need the high-level specialised care these services give.

“For the majority of patients, it would be better to go to a different health service, but many may be unaware of the different options available to them.

“It might also be that for some patients, they cannot get to see their GP soon enough, or don’t know what level of care or treatment they might need from different health professionals such as a pharmacist.

Monday’s meeting will run from 5.30pm to 7pm.

The public consultation period concludes at the end of the month.

Twitter: @shieldsgazpaul