Manchester’s NHS walk-in centres

Monitor, the NHS regulator is conducting a review of the closure of NHS walk-in centres in Manchester.  Please respond via walkincentresreview@monitor.gov.uk
I’ve just done so with this response.

I write as a former community health and social care manager (NHS and city council), and from time to time also a user of such services (personally and with family and friends).
These centres provided a very useful, locally based service in the context of a) reduced quality and accessibility of primary care out-of-hours provision, and b) reduced density of A&E units.
They provide(d) quick attention cost-effectively – many consultations did not require medical attention.  An example was when I fell off my bike, hitting my head:  on colleagues’ urging I attended Withington walk-in centre where a basic check was conducted together with advice on what to watch for and what to do in the event of symptoms developing.
Sadly the centres never got the integration they needed, something inherent in the marketised NHS we’ve had to put up with since the Milburn residency.  Withington Community Hospital should have been developed as a polyclinic supporting and supported by primary care centres / GP practices and linking effectively with the two local general hospitals.  This didn’t happen and it ended up a rag bag of unrelated services.
In this context, the actions of the former PCT in closing these centres at the first sign of financial pressures elsewhere in the system, were evidence of a shameful lack of imagination, and the squandering of the opportunity for integration that the Dobson PCT model had offered.

Manchester’s health scrutiny committee, among others, opposed these closures and it is good to see an opportunity for responding.

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