I promised to keep you updated on progress in my campaign to save the Bitterne Walk-in Centre from closure. 

As I understand it the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) cannot make this decision without approval of the City Council’s Health and Well Being Board (H&WBB). This Board is dominated by Labour Councillors. I am therefore a little disturbed and disappointed that Labour are trying to make this a political issue, when in fact it is a Labour decision through the Health and Well Being Board. 

I have sought to keep politics out of this, instead concentrating on the important issue of saving this well used facility, but I feel I must now point out Labour’s inconsistency. I have reproduced the text the letter I have sent to the Chairman of the City Council’s Health and Well Being Board for your information. I will keep you posted as and when he replies.


Dear Councillor Shields,

I am writing to you in your capacity as the Chairman of the Health & Well Being Board (H&WBB). That board, as I understand it, sets the parameters for the health provision in Southampton.

The board informs the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) of the health outcomes it desires, and the CCG then commissions services to meet those outcomes. I understand from the Chief Executive of the CCG, and from Steve Townsend that their intention is to shut the Bitterne Walk-in Centre (BWIC) on 1st December 2014 for a period of six months, and to provide no other extra similar provision.

Any savings from the closure will be spent on community nursing projects yet to be determined, but with an emphasis on keeping people out of hospital. No one would disagree with investing in keeping people out of hospital in the first instance and certainly preventing them returning to hospital after discharge, but to close the BWIC to achieve this does not have widespread support in the local community.

If the H&WBB sets the parameters, and those parameters have not changed in the last month or two, how is it possible that the CCG can close the BWIC without the matter being discussed and approved by the H&WBB? This is a fundamental change in policy and so far as I can see the H&WBB has not requested this change. On a matter as publicly emotive and important as this closure, it seems inconceivable to me that the permission of the H&WBB would not be sought.

I would be very interested in hearing your thoughts on this matter, because from an outsider it looks as though the H&WBB is at least supportive of the closure if not leading the agenda.

Yours sincerely


Councillor Royston Smith