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00Walk-in-Centre-Campaign

In October 2018, Dawn Butler MP, Shadow Minister for Women and Equalities, campaigned for the Walk-in Centre with local residents © Dinnen Griffiths

Celebrate outside the Walk-in Centre at 11am this Saturday!

Hastings has moved closer to keeping its walk-in medical centre at Station Plaza – after a vigorous campaign by local people, Labour Party members and union activists. HOT’s Erica Smith is happy to share the news and invites you to gather in front of the Walk-in Centre at 11am THIS Saturday (17 August) for a last group hug outside this valuable resource.

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Young and old realised the importance of saving our Walk-in Centre!

It was about a year ago that Hastings Borough Councillor Mike Turner shared his concerns about the future of the Walk-in Centre at Station Plaza. Health bosses had threatened to close the centre and relocate its services to the Conquest Hospital in order to save money. But a series of public protests – and the support of 5,000 local people, who signed Labour’s paper and online petitions – persuaded them to change their minds.

The centre looks set to remain a vital resource for the town. The Urgent Treatment Centre Review Board – a sub committee established by East Sussex Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee (HOSC) has approved recommendations by Hastings and Rother Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) to retain the walk-in centre facility at Station Plaza.

It’s not over til the fat lady sings…

Keep your fingers crossed because it still needs the final backing of NHS England. If this is given – as expected – next month, the centre will become what is known in NHS jargon as an ‘integrated health hub’. As well as retaining the walk-in service, it will also become easier for patients to get definite appointments – by booking on phone via NHS 111.

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Peter Chowney, Leader of Hastings Borough Council and Labour Party Parliamentary Candidate for Hastings and Rye

Peter Chowney, Labour parliamentary candidate for Hastings & Rye, said: “This is good news. But I remain concerned about health services in Hastings & Rye. We still have a significant shortage of GPs, staff shortages in our hospitals and rumours of proposed closures of services at the Conquest.

“This together with cuts to NHS budgets, resulting in regional re-organisations, will leave Hastings with less of a voice in the future of its healthcare services.”

He added: “The NHS is in a critical condition – we need a Labour government that cares about the NHS, and will invest in it properly.”

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On the way to the 1 December protest, we met Santa on the bus from St Leonards

Our campaign was led by a small group of Labour Party  and Union activists including myself and Ian Stewart – but we campaigned alongside local residents who are users of the centre – older people, people with children who have multiple disabilities, homeless people and people who have used the Walk-in Centre when they have been in distress.

We held three protests outside the Walk-in Centre and turned the local bus service into campaign battle buses, sharing flyers and information and gathering petition signatures from the passengers – including Santa! I can’t name-check everyone who helped, but here’s a big THANK YOU to Fiona, Martin, Antony, Justin, Ruth, David and everyone else who joined the protests, spoke, sung or played guitar.

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The three protests outside the Walk-in Centre offered everyone the chance to speak – or even sing – to show their support!

Lip service

Amber Rudd MP also gave lip service to support of the Walk-in Centre, but Tory policy which is consistently eroding the NHS meant that Rudd’s promises were not trusted. She headed an on-line i-petition which gathered 227 signatures compared to over 3,500 signatures on the change.org petition that I set up. We also got over 1,000 people to sign our paper petition.

A great service

The Station Plaza centre has proved a lifesaver for patients not able to register with a GP. A significant minority of patients have complex medical needs, including mental health issues. The centre will stay open 7 days a week from 8.00 to 18.30. In addition, the special needs of patients will be met more fully by bringing on board other care agencies.

Most people would have found getting to and from the Conquest Hospital difficult and costly. This emerged as a major issue during the campaign. A return journey to the Conquest by bus for a parent and ill child could cost £7.90 and a change of buses. Bus and train journeys to Station Plaza from Hollington, Ore and Rye are easier and cheaper.

Demand for the centre has increased over the last few years. It wasn’t helped when the Cornwallis practice closed 18 months ago, resulting in 17,000 patients needing to register with other GP practices.

Come on down this Saturday

If you care about the Walk-in Centre, please come along at 11am this Saturday, 17 September, for a final gathering, group hug and photo call outside the Walk-in Centre.

To keep in touch about the Walk-in Centre story, you can visit the Facebook page – or if you haven’t signed the change.org petition yet, please do – I send out occasional updates to everyone who requests them when they sign up.

Posted 20:46 Wednesday, Aug 14, 2019 In: Campaigns

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