The future of the Station Plaza Walk-In Medical Centre in Hastings is becoming a real political hot-potato.
Today Peter Chowney leader of Hastings Council and Labour Parliamentary Candidate for Hastings & Rye has joined the call to keep the centre open in the face of plans – due to be considered later this month – that would see it close, with the functions it now carries out being transferred to the Conquest Hospital on The Ridge.
The Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) that provide local healthcare have, Mr Chowney points out, been placed in special financial measures which means they are being forced to find savings of £18m from their budgets. One of the proposed cuts to save some of that money is the closure of the Station Plaza walk-in centre.
“This centre is used by many of the most vulnerable people in our town, but also by many others who can’t get on a GP list, because of the GP shortage in Hastings,” Mr Chowney points out.
He says: “The Walk-In Centre is under attack by the Tory government, who are demanding £18m of savings that will inevitably damage health care for local people.
“For some, this is their only source of primary health care. Many of them are the most vulnerable in our community. But the impact will be wider than that. Foreign students in Hastings, for example, use the centre, as they can’t go to a GP. Its closure could damage local language schools, an important part of the local economy. Moving it to the Conquest Hospital isn’t a realistic option – that just means telling people to go to the hospital A&E department, which is already overstretched. It’s also much harder to get to.
“Our local NHS is facing big cuts because of government austerity policies, as are all public services. This closure must not take place. Hastings residents deserve decent healthcare, not more cuts.”
Two petitions have already been launched to gather local support for the centre and demand that it be kept open. The first launched almost three weeks ago by Erica Smith on behalf of the local Labour party has gathered almost 2,500 while a petition launched more recently by local MP Amber Rudd has gathered 218 signatures so far.
Labour councillors on the East Sussex Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee have opposed the proposal which was put on hold over the summer.
The Walk-In centre, which allows anyone to wait to see a GP without an appointment and without being on a GP list, is part of the Station Plaza Medical centre, which opened in 2010 as part of a £16m package to improve healthcare services in Hastings
The local Clinical Commissioning Group considered first this closure in April, but deferred a decision.
If you would lie to sign one, or both petitions then please follow the links below…