Questions asked over future of Sunderland walk-in health centres

Grindon Lane Primary Care Centre, Sunderland
Grindon Lane Primary Care Centre, Sunderland
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QUESTIONS were today being asked as to why a walk-in centre used by tens of thousands of patients each year faces closure.

Earlier this year, the Echo revealed that the minor injuries unit at Grindon Lane had been earmarked to close by health bosses .

As well as Grindon, there are minor injuries units in operation at Washington and Bunny Hill.

In March, a letter by Sunderland clinical commissioning group said that it felt it can no longer run four such units on Wearside.

Houghton Primary Care Centre is where operations at Grindon are likely to move to as part of the decision, which it is believed could save £2million.

The walk-in centres were set up to take some of the pressure away from the A&E department at Sunderland Royal Hospital.

The Sunderland Public Service Alliance (PSA), which brings together unions such as Unison, GMB and Unite to challenge public sector cuts, now wants NHS bosses to discuss the plans with as many people in the community as possible.

Ken Richardson, chairman of the PSA, says that every possible impact Grindon’s closure could have on patients’ needs to be looked at.

Mr Richardson said: “We understand that minor injuries services are to be housed in Houghton Primary Care Centre and would like to ask what happened to the plans for Sunderland to have four MIUs across the city.

“A public consultation would need to be held so people across the entire affected areas can offer their views and we would like to hear the details of such an exercise.

“There is also an issue of access for the communities and the PSA would like the NHS to share any health needs assessments, risk registers and equality impact assessments with local political leaders and the public.

“It may be that that access for some of our most hard-pressed communities is going to be exacerbated this.”

Sandhill councillor David Allan said he is worried for the future care of patients in the area.

“We want the NHS to hear the views of the people of the local community and listen to them on this,” said Coun Allan.

“Grindon was the first one of these walk-in centre to open and they now serve thousands of people.”

A spokesman for NHS Sunderland clinical commissioning group said: “We have been working alongside local stakeholders, including the council and community service providers in recent months.

“We are committed to seeking the views of the public, patients and other stakeholders about our proposals in the near future through a consultation process.”

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