PLANS to create a new walk-in health centre at Sunderland Royal Hospital have been given the green light by NHS chiefs.
It means that the minor injuries unit at Grindon Lane Primary Care Centre will close, with another opening at Houghton PCC.
Health bosses admitted last spring that the creation of four walk-in centres had failed to significantly reduce the strain on Sunderland Royal’s A&E department.
Following a consultation period the decision has now been rubber stamped but it has not yet been decided yet where at the hospital the new 24-hour unit will be.
Walk-in centres at Washington and Bunny Hill will remain open.
Grindon Lane’s minor injuries unit opened its doors in 2006 and has treated tens of thousands of patients each year.
Labour councillor Debra Waller, who campaigned against the closure of the walk-in centre at Grindon, said she was disappointed at the decision.
Coun Waller, who represents the Sandhill ward which includes Grindon Lane, said: “It’s going to be a big miss because it was handy for people who live here.
“But the decision is down to the Clinical Commissioning Group and if they think that it’s the best way to go then we have to wait and see.
“Both Councillor David Allan and myself have worked tirelessly to save the unit over the past 10 months on behalf of the many people that use it.
“It’s going to be a big change for some people.”
Independent councillor Colin Wakefield, who represents Copt Hill ward, in Houghton, welcomed the changes, saying: “Obviously I am delighted that Houghton and the surrounding area is to get our long-awaited Primary Care Centre. Its opening is long overdue and I would expect its opening is not allowed to drag on any longer than absolutely necessary.
“The fact that this £23million building has been under utilised for a year now is frankly just not good enough, either financially or as a service to the community.”
Despite the closure of the walk-in centre at Grindon Lane, services such as ultrasounds, X-rays and specialist health management will remain.
A spokesman for NHS South of Tyne and Wear said the plans would give patients better access to “urgent and emergency care services across the city.”
They added: “Sunderland Clinical Commissioning Group, who take over responsibility for commissioning a range of health service in April this year, will ensure that the proposed changes take place in a planned way to ensure that service levels are maintained at all times.”
A procurement process for the new minor injury and illness unit at Houghton Primary Care Centre will begin this year.