Yesterday I was briefed by the Southampton City Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) about a ‘Pilot’ scheme to close the BItterne Walk-in Centre for a period of six months from 1st December 2014.
The CCG want to close the centre and re-allocate its current running costs to strengthen community nursing services across the City during the winter period. The CCG believe this will be important as a means of supporting GPs to provide care for people coming out of hospital and to look after them in their home, thereby also helping to relieve the pressure on the General Hospital. I completely understand the need to bolster community nursing particularly during the winter period when services come under the greatest strain and I am completely supportive of that approach. However, I am not convinced this is the way to do it.
Since I was briefed I have discovered that the cost of running the Bitterne Walk-in Centre is over £1.4m per year. There are between eight and 10 staff employed at the centre and it is open for 41 hours per week (three hours per night Monday to Friday and 13 hours per day on Saturday and Sunday). I simply cannot believe that this service should cost £1.4m and I will be asking for a complete breakdown of how this money is used. I am sure it must be possible to run the walk-in service much more efficiently, and still be able to considerably bolster community nursing.
The Bitterne Walk-in Centre provides a valuable service for local residents and I know that many people will simply not want to lose it. I am unhappy that there is to be no consultation before the closure and I am sure people will be suspicious that it will never open again.
I will, of course, represent your views and concerns to the CCG and support you in every way I can. If you would like to comment on this proposal please do contact me.