When the Guildhall walk-in centre was opened six years ago, it was heralded as ‘a new era for GP-led healthcare in Portsmouth’.
At the time Dr Tim Wright, a director of Portsmouth Health Ltd, medical lead for the Out-Of-Hours service and a local GP, summed up the new service neatly: ‘A lot of people in Portsmouth aren’t registered with a local GP, so that when they do have a health need or illness they don’t know where to turn. They might not visit their GP because they find it difficult to access services.
‘This is an area of deprivation where a lot of people will automatically turn to the emergency department for advice when they could be visiting their GP.’
And yet now, at a time when the government wants GPs to move in the direction of seven days a week coverage – which the walk-in centre already provides – there are plans afoot to potentially merge it with the St Mary’s Treatment Centre.
The city centre is no less deprived now and without the well-used centre these people will lose a vital service.
The St Mary’s centre provides a fantastic service and it is under-utilised, but removing something a couple of miles away in a bid to shunt those misplaced individuals towards Milton doesn’t seem like a practical move and won’t help those who don’t have their own transport.
The city centre is easily accessible by various means – St Mary’s not so.
It is also a proposal that seems rather counter-intuitive at a time when we repeatedly hear about how many people are misusing A&E at the Queen Alexandra Hospital.
If you don’t want to lose the Guildhall centre, make sure your voice is heard. Tell the CCG what you think before it’s too late.