By Peter Chowney
The possible closure of the Station Plaza GP Walk-In service was mooted earlier this year, at a meeting of the local Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG). The reasons at first appeared to be connected to a £90m shortfall in the local CCG budgets, but they’ve since denied that the closure is being considered for that reason. The reason, we’re told, is because of new government rules requiring them to set up an ‘Urgent Treatment Centre (UTC), which could replace the GP Walk-In service. The GP Walk-In service would be relocated to the Conquest Hospital.
However, UTCs are quite a different thing. Whether they’re a good idea or not, they are not the same as a GP walk-in service, and would not replace such a service. And a GP walk-in service at the Conquest would simply be an add-on to an already overstretched A&E department.
The Station Plaza centre is important for many different reasons. It serves one of the most deprived parts of town, with some of our most vulnerable residents. It’s also used by rough sleepers, particularly those referred there by the Seaview Project and other local agencies. But it’s also used by people working in the town centre, as well as the language schools, who send their students there. All these people would find it difficult, or impossible, to use a walk-in service at the Conquest Hospital, on the edge of town and a lengthy (and expensive) bus ride away. It’s also used by local residents who can’t get on a GP list, because of GP shortages in Hastings.
For all these reasons, Hastings and Rye Labour Party began a campaign to save the Station Plaza GP Walk-In service. We launched a petition both on paper and online, using street stalls and door-knocking to get people to sign it. People were shocked that such an essential service was being proposed for closure,and were keen to sign. So far, these petitions have attracted over 4,000 signatures. I recently handed the paper petition to Dr Warden, the Chair of the CCG, but we’ll continue to collect signatures until the CCG makes its final decision.
Closure of this service would be disastrous, and would represent yet another cut to an already overstretched and inadequate local healthcare system. We will continue to do all we can to oppose it and ensure the GP walk-in centre is kept open at Station Plaza.
Please help Hastings CLP fight this closure by adding your name to the petition here.