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NHS walk-in centre closes in favour of seven-day GP services

Patients using the New Cross walk-in centre in southeast London will soon be asked to book extended access GP appointments instead.

NHS Lewisham CCG has decided to end the contract for the centre at the end of March, despite pressure from the local community to keep it open.

According to the CCG, the walk-in model does not ‘provide the best health outcomes’ for patients, which are better served by pharmacists and extended-hours GP services.

It admitted this comes as seven-day GP appointments are ‘currently being underused’.

An online petition to save the walk-in clinic, launched by Lewisham councillor Joe Dromey, has been signed by over 2,000 people.

It pointed to NHS Lewisham’s own consultation document, which suggested that around 40% of patients currently visiting the walk-in centre could instead end up seeking help at Lewisham hospital.

The petition also raised concern for the area’s high number of homeless people in the absence of a walk-in clinic.

The CCG said it had reviewed both clinical evidence and consultation responses in reaching its decision.

CCG chair Dr Marc Rowland said: ‘Our analysis of the conditions and treatments that people currently attend the walk-in centre for has shown that their needs can be more effectively met in alternative services including pharmacies and the GP extended access service.

‘This service is currently being underused so we will be continuing our efforts to increase awareness of this service.’

The CCG is commissioning 30,000 appointments to patients via the GP extended access service in 2018, which are available 8am to 8pm, seven days a week.

This forms part of a Government pledge for all patients in England to have access to pre-bookable routine appointments on evenings and weekends.

A spokesperson for NHS Lewisham CCG said: ‘We will monitor any impact on A&E at local hospitals and other services.

‘We are also working with local practices and charities to develop additional services to meet the needs of people who sleep rough or are homeless.’