Walk-in centres stay, but A&E GP service will be monitored

Queen Alexandra Hospital
Queen Alexandra Hospital
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WALK-IN centres in the Portsmouth area will not be closing soon.

But GP-led groups in charge of buying in services said they cannot rule out changes when contracts come up for renewal next year.

This is partly due to a new scheme, placing GPs in A&E at Queen Alexandra Hospital, Cosham to tackle the high number of patients.

It comes after NHS watchdog group Monitor raised concerns about the number of walk-in centres closing nationally.

The Portsmouth, Fareham and Gosport, and South Eastern Hampshire Clinical Commissioning Groups, pay for walk-in centres in the area.

GP lead Dr Jim Hogan said: ‘Our three CCGs are working hard with Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust, to ensure the A&E remains as that.

‘That is why we have redesigned the “front door” services at the ED.

‘We hope this work will have a significant impact on easing pressure and further improving waiting times.

‘But we will need to evaluate the new working arrangements – and the outcome of that will inform future commissioning needs for all the minor injuries/illness units.’

There is a walk-in centre at St Mary’s Community Health Campus, in Portsmouth, a minor-injuries unit in Gosport War Memorial Hospital and in Petersfield, as well as the Guildhall Walk Healthcare Centre.

Since this month, a scheme in which doctors are based in the emergency department of QA has been up-and-running.

It is to target the number of patients, who may be incorrectly using the service.

Dr Hogan added: ‘Minor injuries units and walk-in centres have an important part to play, particularly as winter approaches. There is no doubt they provide treatment to people who might go to the emergency department at QA, which is there to provide treatment to patients who need accident or emergency treatment.

‘It’s only right we should review all our services when existing contracts come to an end.

‘This is to ensure we are providing the most effective and most appropriate services to our populations at a time of changing healthcare needs. But we are a long way away from making any decisions – and there is a lot of work that needs to be done as part of this on-going review and we will be engaging patients and public for their views.

‘The contract for the walk-in services at St Mary’s is due to end in July next year, but has been extended for 12 months as part of the process.’