Good news for the Walk-in Centre

Councillor Mike Turner is just visible, the first figure on the left in the back row. He did Hastings proud at the HOSC meeting.

Location, location, location – lead petitioner Erica Smith is pleased to report that the Labour Party campaign about the Walk-in Centre appears to have been heard by the CCG officers who have been pushing to replace the popular town centre resource with an Urgent Treatment Centre at the Conquest Hospital.

To begin with… if you are free this morning (Saturday 29 September) at 11.30am, come along to the Salvation Army Hall in St Andrews Square to meet Dawn Butler MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Women and Equalities who is visiting Hastings & Rye. You are very welcome to join us to gather signatures for the petition.

And the other good news… on Thursday morning, the Health Overview Scrutiny Committee (HOSC) met at County Hall in Lewes with the Walk-in Centre on the agenda. I went along with another campaigner, Fiona. We wanted to show that Hastings cares about keeping our walk-in centre in the town centre, and we wanted to show support for Councillor Mike Turner, the only Labour Party representative on the HOSC Committee.

The representative from the CCG said that they are re-evaluating the proposal to close the walk-in and replace it with an Urgent Treatment Centre at the Conquest. He acknowledged that the central location of the Walk-in was important, and that they have looked at the users of the Walk-in and there is only 7% cross-over between the medical issues that patients bring to the walk-in centre and the kind of treatments that are intended to be offered at the proposed Urgent Treatment Centres.

He also said that the name “Walk-In Centre” is going to stop being used and the service needs to be “re-branded”, and that they need to do more research into current usage of the walk-in centres in Hastings and Eastbourne.

It is too early to say that we have won yet, because no promises have been made, but reading between the lines, I think that our incredibly successful petition and visual presence at the Walk-in Centre has made them realise how much local residents value this service – because it IS an essential service. The battle isn’t over, but Thursday’s meeting is definitely a victory for the campaign. Watch this space for more news!

If you haven’t yet signed either the online petition or a real-world paper petition, please follow this link to the Change.org online petition.

Effective Clinical Commissioning – know your rights

In addition to this victory about the Walk-in Centre, Councillor Mike Turner also pressed the CCG representatives about a new policy called Effective Clinical Commissioning. This programme, under the laudable aim of saving money, aims to encourage patients to be seen within the newly proposed NHS ‘footprint’ area of Sussex and Surrey. Cllr Turner asked the CCG representatives whether this would stop patients from using their Right to Choose to have the consultant of their choice – for example, at one of the London teaching hospitals. The representatives seemed reluctant to agree that this would still be possible, but under Cllr Turner’s persistent questioning, they confirmed that the Patient’s Right To Choose would mean this option would not be ruled out. It is important that patients from the Hastings area know this. Both Guys and Moorfield Hospitals are easier to access by train from Hastings than Eastbourne and Brighton hospitals, and are centres of excellence for certain medical procedures.

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Erica Smith