£1m-a-year Newcastle walk-in clinic likely to close

A CITY centre walk-in clinic looks set to close after health chiefs decided it is not good value for money.

walk in clinic, jury's inn

A CITY centre walk-in clinic looks set to close after health chiefs decided it is not good value for money.

The centre at the Jury’s Inn Hotel, in Newcastle city centre, opened in August 2006, but it is likely to close at the end of April next year.

The clinic was intended to give people working in the city centre easy access to health services.

But it has been decided the cost of running the no-appointment clinic – more than £1m a year – is too high given the number of people who use it and the type of illnesses and injuries they have.

Health chiefs say there are other centres, hospital clinics and doctors’ surgeries close to the city centre for people to use and that funding would have to be taken from other services if the clinic was to be kept open.

The centre opened after a contract was agreed between the Department of Health and private operator Care UK. A total of 26 people work there.

A spokeswoman for NHS North of Tyne said: “As commissioners of healthcare, we are discussing whether we should continue a walk-in service on that site once the Department of Health contract with Care UK has ended.

“In doing so, we are considering the impact on patients and the funding implications of taking over the running of the service.

“Since Newcastle Central Walk-in Centre opened, many more NHS services have been established for people who live and work in Newcastle making it easier to access urgent primary care health services.”

Doctors and nurses at the walk-in centre deal with issues such as stomach upsets, ear, eye and throat infections, strains, sprains, minor rashes, scalds, cuts, grazes, bites, stings and minor head injuries.

But some GPs criticised the centre, saying money could be spent more effectively on helping patients at their own practice.

The NHS spokeswoman said that since its opening, GPs in the city have extended their opening hours while other centres have been set up to give people easy access to healthcare.

New facilities include the minor injuries unit at the RVI and the Newcastle University Medical Centre, which is moving to a new surgery in Boots in Eldon Square next week.

Care UK operates 14 walk-in centres for the NHS around the country, but Newcastle is its only outlet in the North East. Nobody was available for comment.

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