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Busy Stratford walk-in service to close this summer

PUBLISHED: 07:00 18 March 2015 | UPDATED: 13:10 18 March 2015

Dr Ron Singer outside the Vicarage Lane health Centre,

Dr Ron Singer outside the Vicarage Lane health Centre,

Archant

A busy walk-in service that received 25,000 patient visits last year will close this summer, the Recorder has learned.

Newham Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) will shut the walk-in service at Vicarage Lane Health Centre when its contract expires in August in a bid to cut costs.

A spokeswoman said the money saved from shutting the Stratford service down will be reinvested into GP’s services across the borough.

However, campaigners believe the closure of the service – which is open daily from 8am to 8pm – will put “a detrimental amount of pressure” on doctors’ surgeries.

Dr Ron Singer, chairman of Newham campaign group Save Our NHS, said: “This centre is well used and is an important part of the primary care provided in Newham.

“By closing this centre down the pressure on GP services in the borough can only increase. It is already very bad and it will only become more and more difficult to meet people’s needs.”

A spokeswoman for Newham CCG said that every GP service in the borough would only need to fit in one extra appointment per day to take up the 25,000 visits made to the walk-in service last year.

However, residents expressed concerns that waiting times at their local surgery would only worsen as a result.

Dorothy Marfo, 54, from Stratford, regularly attends the walk-in centre. She said: “This is ridiculous. We already wait a long time to see our doctors and this will make it worse. The walk-in centre is important for emergencies. Where will we go now?”

Maggie White, from Manor Park, added: “We already have to wait for about two weeks when booking an appointment with a GP.

“When someone gets ill during the day they can’t wait for weeks to see a GP. If you’re ill you should be able to get immediate help.”

Newham CCG said the money saved from closing the walk-in service will be reinvested “to improve access to GP services”, adding: “This will mean longer opening hours and moving towards seven-day a week GP access closer to more people’s homes.

“This makes it easier for everyone to access a GP, not just people who live close to the walk-in centre.

“To plan for the future we have been talking about these plans with patient representative groups on the key issues and options since August 2014. They have told us that reinvesting across Newham is a more equitable way to spend tax payer’s money.”

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