The battle to save the walk-in centre at the Station Plaza health centre took to the airwaves of BBC Radio Sussex last night.
In an interview with drive-time presenter Sarah Gorrell leader of Hastings Borough Council (HBC) and Labour Parliamentary Candidate for Hastings and Rye Peter Chowney said he was not just opposed to the possible closure of the walk-in centre he was opposed to the whole concept of the local NHS clinical commissioning group being force to make £18million worth of savings.
“This is one of the most deprived parts of the country and the health service should be funded properly, I would campaign against any cut in Hastings. What we really want is for the requirement to save £18million to be dropped,” said Mr Chowney.
Asked if he was confident that the campaign to save the walk-in centre would be successful he said he was ‘hopeful’ but not confident and worried that even if the campaign was to be successful it would only mean a further campaign later on resisting cuts to another part of the local NHS.
Erica Smith, whose petition against the potential closure has collected more than 2,500 signatures, said she believed the threat to the walk-in centre was ‘ridiculous’ and believes the walk-in centre is one of the best things that has happened in Hastings town centre.
She told the programme that people have been signing her petition not just from Hastings but from Rye and Bexhill too because people from those neighbouring towns are making use of the service.
Campaigners fear that the closure of the centre would put vulnerable people at risk and would put additional pressure on charities like Seaview and on HBC itself.
Plans for the walk-in centre’s closure being discussed by the clinical commissioning group later this month include the option of the walk-in centre being relocated to the Conquest Hospital. Mr Chowney points out that just puts more pressure on an already over-stretched accident and emergency unit and he says the hospital is a ‘£4 bus ride’ from the town centre which many of the most vulnerable people using the facility just cannot afford.
Local MP Amber Rudd says: “One of the most valuable things about the walk-in centre is its location, right in the centre of Hastings where it can be easily accessed. Taking it away from the town centre and moving it to the northern edge of town will make it less accessible for some of the people who need it. I am committed to stopping this from happening. As such, I am holding a public meeting in Hastings so we can have our say with Amanda Philpott, the Chief Officer for the NHS Hastings and Rother Clinical Commissioning Group.”
That public meeting is due to be held on September 21st and you can register your interest by following this link
To sign Erica Smith’s petition follow this link