Karen Lee MP says she doesn’t support the closure of Lincoln’s Walk-In Centre because it means “downgrading of the health provision my constituents will be able to access.”

“I am uncomfortable that the consultation process undertaken does not appear to have been a meaningful one, given that 94% of respondents expressed the wish for the walk-in centre to remain open and the voice of local people has been ignored,” she said.

The Lincolnshire West Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) announced on Wednesday that the Walk-In Centre will close from February 5, but will stay open at weekends until February 25.

The Walk-In Centre will close from February 5, but will stay open at weekends until February 25. Photo: Liam O’Dell.

Sarah-Jane Mills, chief operating officer at Lincolnshire West CCG, said the number of people using the centre ‘has dropped dramatically’.

“Evidence shows there is not a link between pressures at Lincoln County Hospital this winter and the reduction in attendances at the Walk-in Centre.”

But, Karen Lee MP said: “I am not confident that the assurances I have been given regarding an increase in GP appointments is sufficient either in number or frequency to replace the service currently provided by the walk-in centre. I understand that quarter three of last year saw a decrease in the use of the walk-in centre by 25%, due to publicity of alternative provisions. Yet, the issue remains that a 25% drop in service use does not justify the loss of 100% of the service.

“After looking at the extra appointment times and the local Practices where I have been told extended GP hours will be available, my concern is that coverage will not meet the extra demand generated by the closure of the walk-in centre.”

The news also comes despite 94% of respondents opposing the closure, and nearly 3,000 students signing a petition by the University of Lincoln’s Students’ Union against the decision last year.

Karen Lee’s view is the walk-in centre’s closure is likely to put A&E under an even greater strain than it already is.

“I have seen first-hand the pressures the hard-working A&E professionals are already experiencing. Last week I was told by the staff of the huge pressures both our ambulance service and hospital A&E department are under. I heard that last Tuesday morning it took 7 and a half hours for one patient to be handed over by an ambulance crew, with a back-log of around 20 patients waiting in A&E for a bed,” she said.

“Increased GP appointments will not stem the flow of patients from the walk-in centre to A&E. When I went out with EMAS at the beginning of January, it became clear to me that people could not access appointments at their GP and were dialling 999 instead.

“The decision by the CCG needs to be reviewed. I will be writing to Jeremy Hunt MP to request the decision is reviewed on the basis that the provisions are not sufficient in ensuring an effective level of care.

“It is my sincere view that the chronic underfunding of our NHS by the current government has meant our local CCG has been forced to make these unpopular changes to local healthcare provisions.”

More information about the closure can be found on Lincolnshire West CCG’s website.