Portsmouth pharmacy says there is '˜so much wrong' with plan to relocate health walk-in centre

CONCERNS have been raised that the quality of care provided to Portsmouth residents will be sharply affected if the proposed closure of a health centre goes ahead.

Saturday, 23rd January 2016, 6:00 am
The Guildhall Walk Healthcare Centre, which contains the walk-in centre and a GP practice

Lalys Pharmacy, which provides support to the under-threat Guildhall Walk Healthcare Centre, warns moving services away will cause ‘confusion’ about where to go and see a spike in A&E admissions at Queen Alexandra Hospital.

The consultation is being run by Portsmouth Clinical Commissioning Group, which funds the centre.

Dr Raj Laly, director of Lalys Pharmacy, also based in Guildhall Walk, has grave concerns. He has already threatened to take the CCG to a judicial review if it goes ahead with its plans.

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Dr Raj Laly

He said: ‘There is so much wrong with the CCG’s plan, from choice of location and lack of parking or public transport links, to the model of care and the approach to public consultation.’

The Guildhall Walk Healthcare Centre has a walk-in service and a GP surgery.

The CCG is looking at making a change as the contract is up for renewal in March.

There are four options for the walk-in centre. One option is for the services to remain as they are, while the other three options all involve the walk-in centre moving to St Mary’s Treatment Centre in Milton Road.

Dr Raj Laly

The three choices for the GP practice, which has 7,000 registered patients, would be for it to stay where it is, move, or close entirely and patients register elsewhere.

The CCG’s preferred option is to move the walk-in centre to St Mary’s, and for the GP practice to move to another city centre location.

The CCG is listening to views over its proposal, and says the move would make healthcare ‘fairer’ – as patients at Guildhall Walk ‘get better access’ to GPs and nurses than everyone else in the city, because of the extra funding it receives.

And the changes would promote seven-day GP access for all, ‘not just a few’.

But Dr Laly said there needs to be a range of options available to stem pressures on QA’s A&E department.

Dr Laly said: ‘At a time when the UK’s most critical healthcare priority is to provide alternatives to hospital A&E, how can the only out-of-hours GP surgery in Portsmouth’s city centre be closed?’

In 2012, Lalys Pharmacy was approached to provide services deemed essential to both supporting the centre and residents.

‘We agreed to operate a 100-hour contract, 8am-to-8pm every day of the week, invested in premises and employed a staff of 12 people,’ said Dr Laly.

‘Now, just three years later, having built a great reputation and strong local following without any promotion, which is indicative of the demand for it, the Portsmouth CCG is now proposing its closure.

‘Our primary concern is for the wellbeing of the community we have served for many years, but of course it was a shock when we became aware last year that, after being encouraged to expand our business to accommodate such a successful initiative, it is now under threat.’

A petition put together by Lalys Pharmacy against the changes has been signed by more than 1,700 people online, and another 2,400 patients have signed up in store.

The public consultation ends on February 19.

More information on the proposals can be found at portsmouthccg.nhs.uk/guildhallwalk