Eastbourne, Hailsham and Seaford CCG have opened a formal public consultation into the closure of the Walk-In Centre at Eastbourne station. The consultation will be run by Opinion Research Service, an independent body, until 30 April. This follows their own research into how and when the local population is using the centre.
As a campaign we have also been seeking public opinion on the potential closure for some time through our own surveys and a petition against the closure. There are a number of reasons why we believe it is important for the centre to stay open. These are:-
- Primary Care services in the town are going through a process of change as primary care networks are set up. There is a move to amalgamate surgeries into larger hubs, where many people will be employed with lesser qualifications than GPs. GPs will then spend less time seeing patients and more time overseeing other workers. Patients may find their local practice closes and they are signed up to a hub which is further away from their home. This may cause particular problems for the elderly and disabled people in our community. As people find it harder to access GPs the need for a walk-in centre will increase.
- The Walk-In centre at Eastbourne station also has many patients who are registered there, if this practice closes then all those people will need to be accommodated in the town’s other surgeries.
- The homeless population, in particular the transient homeless population, need access to a walk-in centre. It is unlikely they will have the money to be paying bus fares to the hospital where an urgent treatment centre exists.
- There are many other people in our town who may struggle to find the money to pay bus fares to the hospital to see a GP. We have also twice seen Stagecoach reduce the frequency of the Loop bus which would take people to the hospital.
- We are a town that relies on visitor numbers it makes sense for them to have a walk-in centre in a central location.
- When the decision was taken to keep the walk-in centre at Hastings station open, all the reasons for this decision are also relevant to Eastbourne.
- The surveys taken by this campaign show that many of the original claims made by our CCG as reasons why they were considering closure are in fact the opposite of what you are saying.
- When collecting signatures on our petition in the town we have found 80-90% of the public are happy to sign.
- The crisis that exists in our hospitals is exacerbated by the fact that most of us have difficulty getting to see a GP.
The Eastbourne public have been fantastic, you have completed our surveys and signed the petition. But now we need to ask that as many of you as possible also take part in the public engagement process that has been launched. It is vital that the CCG hears our views directly from us.
In 2018 the Guardian published this report into the closure of walk-in centres around the country in which Norman Lamb MP describes the policy as “depressingly shortsighted”.
You can contact the CCG with your views on 01273 403687 or by emailing EHSCCG.YourSay@nhs.net. You can also visit the CCG’s own dedicated webpage to this proposal
But please keep on signing our petition either online or if you see us in town.