Welcome to Portsmouth, but please don’t fall ill

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BLAISE TAPP: Even in the 21st century, you can't beat old-fashioned playtime

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Like or not, we now live in a 24/7 world. Should you desire, you can do your weekly shop in a supermarket at 3am.

If you balk at stepping outside at that hour, you can shop to your heart’s content online.

And if you want to keep up with the news, drop Aunt Jemima in Australia an e-mail or discover what your friends are up to at midday or midnight, you get out your smartphone.

But despite most of us living in the 21st century, we in Portsmouth have been saddled with a bunch of health service bureaucrats living in the Dark Ages.

What have they done? Only taken away one of the smartest innovations in the city for decades – the 8am-8pm walk-in clinic in Guildhall Walk which was open to everyone.

In one fell swoop they have sent this message to every visitor this city is trying to attract: ‘Welcome to Portsmouth, but make sure you’re not about to keel over.’

A new hotel has just opened in the city centre. The area is thronged with thousands of students. Guildhall Walk is a direct link between the civic heart of Portsmouth and Gunwharf Quays. So what does the city’s clinical commissioning group do? Move the clinic to the eastern side of Portsmouth which no non-local will ever be able to find. Genius.

When this retrograde step was mooted, we knew the outcome; that the much-vaunted ‘public consultation’ would count for nothing; that the decision to go to St Mary’s Hospital was a foregone conclusion.

The irony of this backward step is that instead of being seen by medical professionals in the city centre, patients will end up adding to the snaking queues in A&E at Queen Alexandra Hospital – the very thing the walk-in centre was intended to stop.