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Dawn Butler MP and Peter Chowney, parliamentary candidate for the Labour Party (centre) with Walk-in Centre campaigners last Saturday

Dawn Butler MP and Peter Chowney, parliamentary candidate for the Labour Party, (centre) with Walk-in Centre campaigners last Saturday.

Location, location, location: good news for the Walk-in Centre

Local residents’ concerns about the Walk-in Centre appear to have been heard by the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) officers who have been pushing to replace the popular town centre resource with an Urgent Treatment Centre at the Conquest Hospital. Campaigning continued this Saturday with a Labour Party petition drive in the town centre, and a gathering outside the Walk-In Centre with Dawn Butler MP, shadow Secretary of State for Women and Equalities, joining the campaign. Erica Smith reports.

Last Thursday morning (26 October), the East Sussex County Council Health Overview Scrutiny Committee (HOSC) met at County Hall in Lewes with the Walk-in Centre on the agenda. Labour Councillor Mike Turner (Baird Ward) is the only representative for Hastings on the committee.

At the meeting Mark Angus from East Sussex Better Together said that they are re-evaluating the proposal to close the walk-in and replace it with an Urgent Treatment Centre at the Conquest. He acknowledged that the central location of the Walk-in was important, and that they have looked at the users of the Walk-in and there is only 7% cross-over between the medical issues that patients bring to the walk-in centre and the kind of treatments that are intended to be offered at the proposed Urgent Treatment Centres. He also said that the name “Walk-In Centre” is going to stop being used and the service needs to be “re-branded”, and that more research into current usage of the walk-in centres in Hastings and Eastbourne needs to be carried out.

Erica Smith, the lead petitioner for the Labour Party-led campaign to save the Walk-In Centre said: “It is too early to say that we have won yet, because no promises have been made, but reading between the lines, I think that our popular petition and visual presence at the Walk-in Centre has made the CCG realise how much local residents value this town-centre service. The battle isn’t over, and we will continue gathering signatures for the petition, but Thursday’s meeting was definitely a victory for the campaign.

Saturday’s drive to get local residents to support the petition proved successful with 30 campaigners collecting signatures around St Andrews Square. They were joined by Dawn Butler MP, fresh from Labour Party conference and a rising star within the Shadow Cabinet (top photograph).

Baird Ward’s Councillor, Mike Turner, is just visible first left in the back row of the ESCC Health Overview Scrutiny Committee

Baird Ward’s Councillor, Mike Turner, is just visible first left in the back row of the ESCC Health Overview Scrutiny Committee

Effective Clinical Commissioning – know your rights

In addition to this victory about the Walk-in Centre, Councillor Mike Turner also pressed the CCG representatives about a new policy called Effective Clinical Commissioning. This programme aims to encourage patients to be seen within the newly proposed NHS ‘footprint’ area of Sussex and Surrey. Cllr Turner asked the CCG representatives whether this would stop patients from using their Right to Choose to have the consultant of their choice – for example, at one of the London teaching hospitals. The representatives seemed reluctant to agree that this would still be possible, but under Cllr Turner’s persistent questioning, they confirmed that the Patient’s Right To Choose would mean this option would not be ruled out. It is important that patients from the Hastings area know this. Both Guys and Moorfield Hospitals are easier to access by train from Hastings than Eastbourne and Brighton hospitals, and are centres of excellence for certain medical procedures.

Councillor Turner also challenged new money-saving health policies that have led to discharging patients prematurely, which have led to readmission and can lead to unnecessary mortalities.

Second Walk-in Centre get-together is planned for Bonfire Day

On Saturday 13 October at 1pm, there will be another gathering outside the Walk-in Centre. Residents from Ore are encouraged to join the protest by travelling down on the Number 20 bus.

The Change.org petition currently has over 3,200 signatures, and another 1,000 local residents have signed a paper-based petition. Amber Rudd MP has also set up an ipetitions.com page which has attracted 226 signatures.

Posted 23:29 Sunday, Sep 30, 2018 In: Campaigns

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