People urged to join the fight as D-Day for Sunderland urgent care decision looms

Houghton Primary Care Centre is one of the Primary Care Centres for urgent care removal
Houghton Primary Care Centre is one of the Primary Care Centres for urgent care removal

Controversial plans which could shut three urgent care centres in Sunderland will be discussed at a meeting this week.

Campaigners from Keep Our NHS Public (KONP) will host the event on Friday to highlight the proposals in the recent consultation on urgent care in the city.

The suggested changes have prompted fears about the future of care on Wearside, particularly transport for patients in Washington and the Coalfield, and the ability of other services to cope with demand.

Related: MP explains her objections to closure of three Sunderland urgent care centres as deadline looms

Laura Murrell, branch secretary of KONP’s Sunderland branch, said: “There’s a lot of changes going on in the NHS, this isn’t the only one, and the government is telling the NHS to speed up some of the changes.

“There’s a lot of things going on people aren’t aware of, and once the NHS goes, it’s gone.

“If people value it and want it to last another 70 years without it becoming privately run they should come along, listen to what’s going on, and how we can try and challenge these changes.”

The consultation, which ran from May to September, proposed the closure of urgent care centres in Houghton, Washington and Bunny Hill.

Patients would instead be sent to Pallion Health Centre, next to Sunderland Royal Hospital, or offered out-of-hours GP appointments.

However, among criticisms levelled at the survey was a suggestion this system would allow users to see their own GP, when this would not necessarily be the case.

And a 14,000-signature petition presented to Sunderland City Council by KONP was not included in a report of the consultation draft findings because it was delivered to Sunderland Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), which is responsible for the plans, after the official deadline.

However, CCG bosses have said the petition will feature in the final report, due to be published later this month.

The meeting, which is expected to be attended by Washington and Sunderland West MP Sharon Hodgson and members of the city council, is due to run from 6.30-8pm on Friday, November 16, at Age UK, in Stockton Road, Sunderland.

James Harrison, Local Democracy Reporting Service