Support to keep the Guildhall walk-in centre where it is

The Guildhall Square walk-in health centre
The Guildhall Square walk-in health centre
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  • Commissioners plan to move the centre into Milton to cause less confusion for patients
  • Service manager believes this is the wrong decision
  • Councillors launch campaign to keep service in the city centre
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THE manager of Guildhall Walk Healthcare Centre says closing it is a mistake.

Kim Dennis is the service manager for the centre, which houses a GP practice and a walk-in centre.

I don’t think moving this centre is the right decision at all

Kim Dennis, service manager for the Guildhall walk-in centre

The walk-in centre is under threat of being moved to the walk-in centre at St Mary’s Treatment Centre in Milton.

But Mrs Dennis says that would be the wrong decision.

She said: ‘We were set up six years ago as a flagship service and perform extremely well.

‘We deliver now what the government sees as the future – we are open seven days a week and people can see a GP in that time. We help some of the most vulnerable like the homeless and have built a good relationship.

‘I don’t think moving this centre is the right decision at all.’

Mrs Dennis said that having an urgent care centre, staffed by GPs, in Queen Alexandra Hospital’s A&E department, was a bad system.

The idea is that patients can see a GP if it is thought they do not need emergency care.

She added: ‘You need to take out the urgent care centre at QA – that’s what’s confusing for patients.

‘We’re trying to tell people not to go to QA unless it’s an accident or emergency, so why would you have GPs there? It makes no sense to me.

‘We are a huge city and you need different locations to give options and we are in a good location.

‘The Guildhall walk-in centre is a fantastic service and it could also be more. We have space to offer sexual health services in a central location.’

The Portsmouth Clinical Commissioning Group has written to 6,000 of the Guildhall surgery’s registered patients, many of whom are students, as the GP practice in the same building could also be moved.

But Mrs Dennis said the CCG wrote to the students after they had gone home for the summer.

Innes Richens, chief operating officer for the Portsmouth CCG, said: ‘We’re working hard to reach as many people as possible, and continue to do so.

‘As well as arranging for letters to be sent directly to all 6,000 registered patients, we have put information prominently on our website, given information to media, and used social media.

‘In addition, we’re working with the voluntary sector to hear from specific groups of people – for example those registered as homeless – who we may need to engage with in a different way.’

He added: ‘Regarding students, as well as writing to them, we have also liaised with both the university, and the Students’ Union, to ask for their help in getting the message out there.

‘The university has published information on the “student” section of its website, and the union has put messages.

‘Engaging with students can be complex, given they are likely to move between different addresses throughout the year, and we recognised that from the start.

‘That is why we have tried to contact them using a variety of means, rather than a single letter, and will continue to do so.’

Councillor Yahiya Chowdhury represents the Charles Dickens ward, which covers the centre.

He said: ‘I and the other ward councillors are starting a campaign to keep the centre where it is.

‘We will be leafleting and making sure people understand what would happen if this service were to move.’