UPDATED – Fight goes on to secure future of Station Plaza walk-in centre

Saturday’s protest outside the NHS walk-in centre at Station Plaza in Hastings town centre can have left health bosses in no doubt that local people are determined to ensure the centre stays open

Around 75 people took part in the protest including a bus load of people who had travelled from Ore and two homeless people. Everyone there had a story to tell about why they wanted to keep the walk-in centre to stay in the town centre.

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During Saturday’s meeting outside the walk-in centre numerous people spoke about how they had benefitted as a result of the easy access to the walk-in centre and explain why they believe it has to stay in the town centre.

The protest ended a busy week for campaigners, on Thursday they presented a petition with approaching 4,000 signatures to Dr David Warden Chair of the Hastings and Rother Clinical Commissioning Group, (CCG) the organisation that will make the final decision about the walk-in centre’s fate. The petition, set up by Erica Smith, collected signatures online and at regular weekend stalls in King’s Road and Hastings town centre set up by members of the local Labour party.

To reinforce the importance of the town centre walk-in centre Ian Stewart, who had a stroke two years ago while he was in Hastings Town Centre was present when the petition was handed over. When he became unwell he was accompanied to the walk-in centre where his stroke was diagnosed and an ambulance was called to take him swiftly to Eastbourne Hospital. Without a town centre walk-in facility, he would have had to travel up to the Conquest and to demonstrate how long that would have taken he travelled by bus to the to the Conquest to be part of the group handing over the petition, the journey took him 55 minutes, critical time for someone who has suffered a stroke.

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Waiting for the bus! Some of those who travelled to the protest by bus from Ore.

It was Mr Stewart who organised a group to travel to Saturday’s protest by bus from Ore to demonstrate how easy it is to get to the centre quickly.

Plans are in hand for a further protest outside the walk-in centre on Saturday December 1st at 1pm and campaigners have given their group a name, it will be known as SWISH, which stands for Save the Walk-In Service Hastings, a Facebook page has been set up and can be viewed by following this link https://www.facebook.com/SWISHcampaign/.

Campaigners are urging local people to start lobbying the Hastings and Rother Clinical Commissioning Group and to write to Hastings MP Amber Rudd, they are calling on local people to “keep the pressure up!”

The walk-in service is open from 8am to 8pm and because it is next door to Hastings station, it is easy to reach by public transport. On the Saturday morning, we will have a stall outside the Co -op in Ore, and a group of Ore residents plan to travel to the Walk-In Centre on the Number 20 bus to join the protest.” The protest will run from 1pm – 1.30pm, and everyone who attends will be encouraged to share their experiences of the support the Health Centre has given them and the reasons why they think the Walk-in Centre needs to stay in the town centre.

Peter Chowney, leader of Hastings Borough Council and Labour’s prospective parliamentary candidate for Hastings and Rye says: “There are no promises yet that they’ll (the CCG) keep it open, but I think they’ve been surprised by the level of public concern over this, and the impact it will have in many different ways, for the language schools, people working in the town centre, people who can’t find a GP, as well the most vulnerable people in our community.

“We’ll keep getting signatures, on paper and online, until they make a final decision.”

There were around 1,000 signatures collected on the paper petition and around another 3,200 online.

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