The Brighton Station Walk-in Centre is to close along with the sexual health clinic at the same premises.
But the conventional GP (general practice) surgery at the Queen’s Road site is expected to remain open there until next year.
Notice was given on services at the site last week and staff were given the news on Friday (15 June).
The move came as the company that operates those NHS services – Care UK – prepares to start providing GP services from the nearby Clock Tower branch of Boots, possibly as early as next month.
The Brighton and Hove Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said: “We are committed to improving access to non-urgent treatment for people in the city through greater accessibility to services.
“We can reassure people that no decision has been reached to close the Walk-in Centre and it is contracted to remain open until March 2019. The public will get their chance to have their say before any service changes are made.
“Those patients registered at Care UK’s Queen’s Road practice do not have to do anything to maintain their GP access, the practice will continue as before and they will be taken care of automatically if plans progress.
“Sexual health drop in services will continue from the site and then be provided elsewhere in the community.
“As part of our strategic urgent care planning, we will be consulting with the public on a new way of providing non-urgent same day treatment, including possibly replacing old ways of working, such as the Walk-in Centre, with better provision from a number of sites around the city where people will be able to access non-urgent treatment, rather than just at the single city centre site.
“Through the new way of providing this care, patients will get improved access to same-day enhanced services.
“This will bring increased resilience to our GP practices by providing them with the greater levels of support they have called for to deal with high demand for urgent and same-day treatment.
“This will offer all patients registered with any GP in the city improved access to same-day booked appointments at evening and weekends.
“We will achieve better value for money for the community by drawing the separate strands of primary care together so patients benefit from a joined up model of urgent care, tailored to meet the needs of local people, and delivered locally.
“We will fully engage with the community on any changes, to discuss how existing and further investments can be made to develop an urgent treatment centre, primary community health hubs and technology to support patients with accessing care in the right place.”
Care UK has built up a patient list of almost 7,000, according to the most recent CQC (Care Quality Commission) report.
And a year ago the CQC rated the Brighton Station Health Centre – the GP surgery – as good in every respect.
The GP practice and walk-in centre opened at the start of July 2009, after the forerunner of the CCG, the primary care trust, awarded a five-year contract to Care UK. The contract has since been extended more than once.
Clinicians at the walk-in centre alone see about 400 patients a week from 8am to 8pm seven days a week.
Many of those patients might otherwise have gone to A&E (accident and emergency) at the Royal Sussex County Hospital.
The number of people turning up at A&E in Kemp Town has soared over the past few years.
Now the trust that runs the Royal Sussex – Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals – is spending £30 million on expanding capacity on the emergency floor there.
The project, which includes building a 70-bed short-stay unit, is due to be completed by the end of next year. An ambulatory care unit has already opened as part of the plan.
There is concern in some quarters that closure of the walk-in centre will mean hundreds of extra patients a week going to the overstretched A&E.
And a visible presence for tourists, conference visitors and unregistered local patients as well as thousands of other local people will be lost.
But local doctors are also believed to have been worried that Care UK would attract even more patients to its innovative proposed GP service at Boots, on the corner of North Street and Queen’s Road.
And through the CCG, local doctors now have a much greater say in commissioning primary care services, such as GP surgeries, in Brighton and Hove.
The Boots branch previously had its own GP surgery until the Practice Group, which ran the service, pulled out two years ago.
The company ran five GP surgeries in Brighton and Hove but quit them all after the Department of Health commissioned a budget-cutting review of its contract.
News of the walk-in centre closure comes weeks after the Hove Park Villas surgery said that it was closing at the end of September, with the retirement of Dr Alex Mancey-Barratt.
The Hove Park Villas patient list will be transferred to the Trinity Medical Centre, in Goldstone Villas, on the corner of Blatchington Road.
Concerns have been expressed, with patients reporting problems getting through on the phone to Trinity and too few appointments being available when they do get through.
Hove Park Villas is the ninth GP surgery closure in Brighton and Hove since the start of 2015.
While the Brighton Station Walk-in Centre and sexual health service could shut as soon as next month, the GP surgery should remain open just outside Brighton station until spring next year.
Health chiefs say that it is more expensive to treat patients at the walk-in centre but the cost is significantly cheaper than seeing a patient in A&E.
And for the past few years they have taken out dozens of adverts urging people to go to the walk-in centre instead of A&E unless they need life-saving or genuine emergency treatment.
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