Monitor Calls On Govt To Change Walk-In Centre Tack

Health Sector Regulator Monitor Calls For Govt To Change Views On Walk-In Centres


Health sector regulatory group Monitor has called on the Government to think again before closing down too many walk-in centres.

Research published by the organisation has shown that around 25 per cent of the facilities have closed down in recent years, despite an overwhelming level of popularity among patients.

Services in York, Manchester, London, Plymouth, Southampton, Blackpool, Bristol and Colchester have all been cut in recent years, reports the Guardian, and this is leaving accident and emergency units with more to do in terms of providing adequate care and cover than ever before.

In its preliminary report on the state of walk-in centres, Monitor points out that many units have been victims of their own success, with visits becoming so popular among members of the public that people with very minor ailments, including coughs and colds, have put excess stress on resources.

Of the 238 walk-in centres set up by the Labour government following its inception in 2000 by former prime minister Tony Blair, only 185 remain, with services particularly popular among women, vulnerable social groups and young people.

One of the main advantages for users is that an appointment is not needed and this means more immediate, but non-life threatening conditions, can be treated by a trained nurse.

Catherine Davies, executive director of cooperation and competition at Monitor, said: "Some commissioners told us they end up paying twice for treating patients at walk-in centres who are already registered with a GP. We are now asking for views on whether the payment system should be reformed.

"While it is for commissioners to decide whether to keep a walk-in centre open, we need to make sure that the needs of patients are fully considered before decisions are taken."

Research published by Monitor shows that Mondays and Saturdays are the busiest days of the week for the centres, but despite strain being put on services by government cuts and an increase in patients; around four out of five users said they were happy with the care they received.

Expert Opinion
It is important that the decision to close these walk-in centres across the UK is not taken lightly as they provide an invaluable service to communities. If a number of the centres are to close, steps need to be taken to ensure that hospitals and GP surgeries in the surrounding areas are in a position to accommodate the increase in numbers and that patient care overall is not comprised.

“The report published by Monitor must be evaluated thoroughly to ensure that no regions in the country are left with less than adequate healthcare for residents. It is vital that patient care is maintained throughout the country and that additional support to the NHS Trusts is provided where necessary.”
Lisa Jordan, Partner