Community leaders who fear for the future of their £10million care centre have urged people to have their say - before it’s too late.
Seaham Primary Care Centre was opened in 2012 as part of the regeneration of St John’s Square.
Now, its work is being reviewed as NHS Durham Dales, Easington and Sedgefield Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) looks at meeting demand at the centre, as well as walk-in services in Peterlee Community Hospital and Healthworks in Easington Colliery.
It has drawn up a proposal which would see services including minor injuries available at hubs during the day, including weekends, but no walk-in facilities.
GPs would be accessible from 6pm to 8pm.
Seaham Town Council has said it is “extremely concerned” about the consultation, and is calling for a bigger venue, with only 87 places available at an event on Wednesday, April 27.
As Seaham is a rapidly improving and growing tourist town I would also like to see a 24-hour minor injuries unit here rather than anywhere else.Councillor Eddie Bell
Leader Eddie Bell said: “The NHS consultation is so confusing for the public that we fear few of them will give their views until it’s too late, and the changes have been made, at a point when they are negatively affected by them.
“We want to ensure that our walk-in centre becomes a hub for the GP practices in the Seaham area, with extended opening times and enhanced GP practices.
“As Seaham is a rapidly improving and growing tourist town I would also like to see a 24-hour minor injuries unit here, rather than anywhere else.”
Doctors from Marlborough Surgery, based in the centre, have told the council a hub would bring together resources from practices.
The council says the CCG has said the walk-in centre is too expensive to run.
Patients with minor ailments, injuries and acute health needs will be seen by nurses and sent to a GP if needed, to improve care and reduce A&E attendance and ambulance use.
Dr Jonathan Smith, clinical chairman of the CCG said: “The current system is confusing for patients and often they end up in ‘the wrong place’ and there is a lot of duplication of work in urgent care centres, walk-in centres, A&E departments, and GP surgeries.
“Patients have told us that often they use urgent care centres as they didn’t think they would be able to get an appointment with their GP at a time that was convenient for them.”
He added it wants people to register to go to the meeting to ensure it has enough space.
A free taxi service will be set up to help people reach the session.
Consultation is also taking place in locations including supermarkets, with leaflets also sent to homes.
Seaham’s meeting will be held from 6pm to 8pm at Seaham Golf Club, while another will be held for Easington Colliery on Thursday, May 12, from 2pm to 4pm at Easington Social Welfare Centre.
To view the proposals or to attend an event, there is more information available at www.gettingcarerightforyou.org.uk or call the CCG team on (0191) 371 3222.