Fears over future of Sunderland walk-in health centre

Sunderland City Council'Sunderland Customer Service Centre'Bunny Hill
Sunderland City Council'Sunderland Customer Service Centre'Bunny Hill
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CARE services at a city walk-in centre are set to be shaken up under new plans.

Health bosses say they are hoping to turn the unit at the Bunny Hill Centre in Downhill from a nursing-based service into a GP-led building, which could see staff on the move.

About 30 staff who work at the Hylton Lane facility were told of the plans in a meeting this week.

One nurse who works at Bunny Hill, who did not want to be named, said: “We treat 130 to 140 patients a day, and I worry who is going to treat them if this happens. The commissioners are talking about making the services GP-led, but I don’t know if that will work.”

The woman also expressed concerns for colleagues who may now be redeployed to other centres. “We’ve got girls who work here who can’t drive, so if they have to go somewhere else, they will find it hard to get there,” she said.

A walk-in facility in Grindon Lane has already been earmarked for closure, but similar ones will remain at Washington, and a new one has been opened at Houghton Primary Care Centre.

A new 24-hour urgent care service will also be created at Sunderland Royal Hospital.

Tanya Watson, Unison northern region health commission branch steward, said: “Unison will be fully supporting people who work in that centre to make sure that everybody is as secure for the future as much as we possibly can.

“As soon as we have any further information, we will be happy to engage with the CCG and negotiate on behalf of the staff.”

A spokeswoman for Sunderland Clinical Commissioning Group said: “Part of the changes to ensure there is more equitable access to urgent and emergency care services for patients across the city includes changing Bunny Hill Primary Care Centre from a nurse-led service to an enhanced GP-led service.

“We are currently working on a timetable to implement these changes, which will take place in a planned way to ensure that service levels are maintained at all times so patients can access the services and the CCG takes account of the legal requirements around this.”