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Patients campaign to save popular GP practice and walk-in clinic

Patients are campaigning to save a highly rated GP practice and walk-in centre in Portsmouth, after the CCG proposed it should be merged into another facility two miles away.

To date, 1,559 patients have signed a petition launched against the plans to get rid of the centre, which has seven GPs and is open 8am-8pm seven days a week, in March next year.

In a consultation on plans, NHS Portsmouth CCG said that its ‘preferred approach’ would be to ‘move the GP walk-in service from Guildhall Walk to St Mary’s, to work alongside the existing nurse-led service there’ and also keep a GP urgent care centre at the Queen Alexandra Hospital linked to the A&E department.

The consultation said the CCG ‘has been asking GPs and city residents about this system, and it is clear that many people feel the current set-up is complicated, making it harder to know which is the right service to use, and when’.

The CCG said combining the two centres would be better because ‘[t]he walk-in service would have GPs and nurses working together as a team, with easy access to diagnostics (X-rays, etc)’ and that it would be more efficient and accessible.

It said: ‘Currently the NHS pays for two separate walk-ins within two miles of each other.’

But Guildhall Walk Healthcare Centre service manager Kim Dennis told The News that moving the clinic, which was only set up six years ago as a ‘flagship’ scheme, would be the wrong decision.

She said: ‘We deliver now what the Government sees as the future – we are open seven days a week and people can see a GP in that time. We help some of the most vulnerable, like the homeless, and have built a good relationship. I don’t think moving this centre is the right decision at all.’

Patients signing the petition to save the clinic, which is rated at 94% positive on NHS Choices, said the planned relocation must be halted as the St Mary’s walk-in clinic was already perceived to be under pressure.

Jeanette J wrote on 26 August: ‘This facility is necessary here as it is in a central location. St Mary’s already has long waiting lists and would be put under more pressure if they had more patients located from Guildhall Walk.’

Debbie S added: ‘This has [a] great service and I agree with lots of others [that] Mary’s is way too busy. [T]his needs to stay open.’