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DH flagship walk-in centre first to close

By Lilian Anekwe

One of the Government's flagship first-generation walk-in centres is to close after becoming the first victim of a series of PCT reviews to determine if they are delivering value for money.

Pulse revealed last December that trusts were assessing whether to renew the contracts of their commuter walk-in centres after a Government-funded evaluation concluded they were hugely more expensive than GP registered appointments.

Costs at the centres were as high as £62 per attendance, more than twice the £30 at GP practices.

Now NHS Manchester has told Pulse it will not renew the contract for its Piccadilly train station centre once it expires at the end of September, with a nearby Darzi centre likely to take on walk-in capacity.

Dr Julien Walkley, a GP in south Manchester and an executive member of Manchester LMC, said ‘good riddance' to the centre.

‘There was a political will to have a commuter walk-in centre when there was no need for it, and a shed-load of money has been wasted.'

Trusts where the other five original centres are located have also refused to commit to continuing their services once contracts expire later this year.

A spokesperson for NHS Tower Hamlets, which runs the centre at Canary Wharf in London, told Pulse the contract was currently under review and ‘there is a possibility this is the end for the service'.

A decision on whether to scrap the centre in Leeds is expected imminently, a spokesperson told Pulse. All of the other three centres – at Westminster, Newcastle and City & Hackney – are still under review.

The closures are set to prompt PCTs to review their wider strategies for walk-in centres. Pulse has learned that other trusts are considering the futures of their walk-in centres, with minutes from an NHS Sheffield board meeting this month revealing that it is considering closing its walk-in centre at the Royal Hallamshire hospital.

PCTs are closely scrutinising value-for-money at walk-in centres