Popular service safe for now but long term future still uncertain
The very popular Parsons Green Walk In Health Centre appears to have been granted a welcome reprieve, with an extension to its current services approved by NHS England.
As we reported earlier this month, Hammersmith and Fulham Clinical Commissioning Group, or CCG, said it would have to close the Parsons Green Walk-In Centre to follow national policy from NHS England and NHS Improvement.
Their guidance stated that centres which do not meet the criteria to become Urgent Treatment Centres should not offer type 3 (minor injuries and minor illnesses) urgent walk-in services.
The guidance also stated: " The expectation is that by December 31 2019 there should be no facilities named a 'Walk-In Centre'."
Hammersmith and Fulham CCG had submitted a request to be exempt from this requirement, but this was declined.
Now however, NHS England appears to have reversed the decision, with a letter from the CCG's Managing Director Janet Cree stating; " Having considered this further, and in light of the extension approval by NHS England, the Parsons Green Walk-In Centre will carry on providing the current service."
However the letter added: " We shall continue further the long term future for the service, but if changes are proposed they would be subject to a further engagement process."
The change of plan was also confirmed in the House of Commons, where in answer to a question from Chelsea and Fulham MP Greg Hands about whether the centre was safe, ,Heath Minister Matt Hancock said: " I can give that confirmation. I have seen some reports from the local Labour Party putting fears into people's minds about the future of Parsons Green Walk-In Centre. There are no plans to close this centre and anybody who says so is simply scaremongering."
The MP subsequently tweeted @GregHands: " Excellent news that Health Secretary @MattHancock has given me direct assurance in the Commons today that the Parsons Green Walk-In Centre has a bright future & won’t move to appointment-only. Thanks Matt!"
However Hammersmith and Fulham’s cabinet member for health and adult social care, Ben Coleman, tweeted the full letter from the CCG and added @BJ_Coleman: " Warning: despite @GregHands' claim, looks as if Parsons Green Walk-In Centre is only reprieved, not saved. Local NHS bosses @NHSHFCCG have said, "We shall consider further the long-term future for the service". I've written to ask when they'll be doing this."
The nurse-led walk -in centre is open from 8am to 8pm on weekdays and from 9am to 1pm at weekends. Last year staff dealt with 24,959 cases – half of them Hammersmith and Fulham residents.
And according to the latest data there were 1,050 wounding cases between January and March this year. They accounted for just over a third of cases, with ear irrigations making up 11% of the cases.
Among those expressing concern about the centre were campaigners from Hammersmith and Fulham Save Our NHS, who wrote to the CCG saying it had high patient and Care Quality Commission ratings.
They added the centre: "is much used by over-pressed GP services and hospitals locally to deal with minor injuries, removal of stitches etc. to relieve pressures on their own services."
It added: "The opening hours provide services at times when other services are also not available, including Saturday and Sunday opening hours. To close the centre can only add to the pressure on other services including acute services which, according to the CCG, are already under extreme pressure."
With contribution from Julia Gregory - Local Democracy Reporter
October 30, 2019