Walk-in centres not cost effective29th June 2012
Financial constraints within the NHS are impacting on walk-in centres where patients can have minor ailments treated without an appointment.
Evidence suggests a quarter of the centres – which have proved popular with patients and were designed to relieve pressure on A&E departments – have closed over the last 12 months.
The Department of Health claims it does not have data on the closures but analysis of weekly NHS hospital activity statistics show there were 75 non-hospital providers of emergency care in June 2012 - 26 fewer than in the same month last year.
Health Minister Simon Burns claimed 20,000 people more were being treated in the centres compared to last year.
He added: “Some of these services have recently been taken over by hospital trusts, whilst others have been integrated into local urgent care services, so while the number of organisations might appear to have fallen, this has not affected access to urgent care services, in fact people using them has increased.”
More than three million people used walk-in centres last year but critics say they have not had any major impact on relieving pressure on A&E departments.
The centres are not a “nationally mandated” policy and GP commissioning groups will be free to shut them down when they take over from Primary Care Trusts as part of the government’s NHS shake-up.
Patients Association chief executive Katherine Murphy said such closures – made in the names of efficiency savings – were reducing patient choice and that walk-in-centres provided “a vital function” for those unable to access their GPs.
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Friday 29th June 2012 @ 19:55
It is a pity! If more than 3m people walked in the walk-in centres last year, surely it must have lessened the presure on the A&E Units. As this facility provides so much relief to the patients who have difficulty accessing their GPs, financial means can perhaps be found to continue these beneficial walk-in centres.
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Title: Walk-in centres not cost effective
Author: Mark Nicholls
Article Id: 22238
Date Added: 29th Jun 2012