Three-pronged final bid to save health centre

Palmers Community Hospital, Jarrow
Palmers Community Hospital, Jarrow

With D-Day looming, campaigners hoping to prevent a South Tyneside health facility from being closed have launched a three-pronged bid to save it.

Jarrow Walk-in Centre, based at the town’s Palmer Community Hospital, is due to move to a new Urgent Care Acute Hub in the grounds of South Tyneside District Hospital on October 1.

Gemma Taylor.

Gemma Taylor.

But a Save Jarrow Walk-in Centre campaign, led by the borough’s Public Service Alliance (PSA), continues to fight the plan.

Representatives say health bosses have failed to address six concerns which needed to be met to justify the move, including provision of cost-effective travel to the district hospital and assurances to patients that their needs would be met “more effectively” at an urgent care hub.

Now PSA area organiser Gemma Taylor has sent a letter to a wide range of health and political figures nationwide and locally outlining their concerns, including prime minister David Cameron, health secretary Jeremy Hunt and all the Labour Party leadership contenders.

Next on the agenda is a ‘Bed Push’ on Wednesday, August 19, during which supporters will walk and push a wheelchair and prams from the walk-in centre to the office at Monkton Hall of David Hambleton, chief officer with NHS South Tyneside Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) – the body behind the transfer plan. The aim is to personally deliver a copy of the letter to Dr Hambleton.

And the campaigners will then meet up on Tuesday, August 25 at 6.30pm in Jarrow’s Alberta Social Club, to assess the progress made.

Dr Matthew Walmsley, a local GP and chairman of NHS South Tyneside Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “The changes to urgent care are firmly based on national evidence which shows that a single hub will benefit patients by ensuring they are guided to the right professional, first time. That means A&E staff can concentrate on genuine emergencies, and everyone benefits from a more efficient NHS.

“We have consulted thousands of local people and identified six key concerns, which we are working to resolve.

“The Health and Wellbeing Board recently considered these in an open meeting and were satisfied with the progress being made. That includes action to help GPs offer more appointments, and new scheme making it easier to get treatment for minor conditions from trained community pharmacists.”