PLANS are being drawn up to close a minor injuries unit that has helped thousands of Wearsiders.
NHS chiefs are currently considering closing the walk-in centre on Grindon Lane and moving its operations to Houghton Primary Care Centre.
The move was today described as “devastating” and could result in patients going “untreated”.
It comes just a few days after the Echo reported that the centre at Houghton was turning away hundreds of patients.
In a letter seen by the Echo, the Sunderland Clinical Commissioning Group states that it cannot afford to run four units across Wearside and this closure could save them £2million.
They state that they need to be aware of the cost of urgent care services “in these times of financial austerity”.
But the idea has been heavily criticised by councillors from the area saying it will have a negative impact on the public and will be a big waste of money.
Councillor for Sandhill Debra Waller said: “If it goes through it will have a really terrible affect on the people of this ward.
“Each year 50,000 people use the walk in centre and it’s also used by the doctors for people who don’t need to be treated at the hospital.
“I think it will be devastating for the area and I think a lot of people will go untreated because they won’t be able to get to the new location.
“I think it’s a waste of money and a big mistake because it’s used so much. When they keep changing things people don’t know where to go for treatment.”
The letter says that some services will remain at Grinon Lane, such as ultrasounds, x-rays and specialist health management.
A spokesperson for Sunderland Clinical Commissioning Group said; “We are working with NHS South of Tyne and Wear, on behalf of Sunderland Teaching Primary Care Trust, to improve urgent and emergency care services in Sunderland.
“Our aim is to ensure that people can access the best care, in the best place at the best time. In order to make this vision a reality, we need to make a number of changes to the way services are currently delivered in Sunderland.
“We will be seeking the views of the public, patients and other stakeholders about our proposals in the near future through a consultation process.
Dr David Hambleton, Director of Commissioning Development for NHS South of Tyne and Wear said; “It’s important to develop services that both meet local needs and are sustainable in the long term.
“At the moment, demand for urgent and emergency services is growing and we simply can’t continue to expand provision indefinitely.
“We believe that our plans will ensure people get the treatment they need, in the right place, in a way that is sustainable in the long term.”