Hastings has moved closer to keeping its walk-in medical centre at Station Plaza – after a vigorous campaign by Labour and union activists.
Health bosses had threatened to close the centre and relocate its services to the Conquest Hospital. But a series of protests – and more than 5,000 local people, who signed Labour’s paper and online petitions – persuaded them to change their minds.
Now the centre looks set to remain a vital resource for the town. The urgent Centre Review Board a sub committee established by East Sussex Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee (HOSC) has approved recommendations by Hastings and Rother Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) to retain the walk-in centre facility at Station Plaza.
It needs the final backing of NHS England. If this is given – as expected – next month, the centre will become what is known in NHS jargon as an ‘integrated health hub’. And it will become easier for patients to get definite appointments – by booking on phone via NHS 111 – rather than waiting hours to be seen.
Peter Chowney, Labour parliamentary candidate for Hastings & Rye, said:”This is good news. But I remain concerned about health services in Hastings & Rye.
‘NHS is in a critical condition. We need a Labour government that cares about it ‘
“We have still have a significant shortage of GPs, staff shortages in our hospitals and rumours of proposed closures of services at the Conquest.
“This together with cuts to NHS budgets, resulting in regional re-organisations, will leave Hastings with less of a voice in the future of its healthcare services.”
He added: “The NHS is in a critical condition –we need a Labour government that cares about the NHS, and will invest in it properly.”
The Station Plaza centre has proved a lifesaver for patients not able to register with a GP. A significant minority of patients have complex medical needs, including mental health issues.
‘The Station Plaza centre has proved a lifesaver for patients’
The centre will stay open 7 days a week from 8.00 to 18.30. In addition, the special needs of patients will be met more fully by bringing on board other care agencies.
Most people would have found getting to and from the Conquest Hospital difficult and costly.
This emerged as a major issue during the campaign. A return journey to the Conquest by bus for a parent and ill child could cost £7.90 and a change of buses. Bus journeys to Station Plaza from Hollington and Ore are easier and cheaper.
Demand for the centre has increased over the last few years. It wasn’t helped when the Cornwallis practice closed 18 months ago, resulting in 17,000 patients needing to register with other GP practices.