Shortly after posting the news on Tuesday of my support for the campaign to keep Middleton Walk-in Centre open, I had the opportunity in parliament to directly ask the Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt MP, for support.
I asked the Health Secretary: ‘In my constituency we have an excellent and much-used facility—a walk-in centre in Middleton town centre—which is now threatened with closure. Will he support our campaign to keep it open? Does he agree that its closure would create more A&E attendances and increase winter pressures on our acute services?’.
Unfortunately, his reply was less than helpful: 'I welcome the question and understand the hon. Lady’s concerns about the changes. She will understand that we do not direct these changes centrally and they are decided locally. One of the things we have to try to do is deal with the confusion a lot of people have at a local level as to what they should do when they have, for instance, a child with fever at the weekends and whether they require a GP, an urgent care centre or an A&E department. I would ask all CCGs to be very careful to make sure they sort out that confusion so NHS patients know exactly what they should do.'
As I said in my blog posted here on Tuesday, I have been contacted by many local people about the possible closure of the Walk-in Centre and I have visited the centre myself to speak with staff and patients. It is clear to me that a clear majority of local residents do not want it to close, and so I was pleased to be able to ask the Health Secretary directly for his support. Unfortunately, he refused to do so and completely passed the buck to the local CCG. However, the campaign won’t stop and I will continue to do all I can to support residents and local health workers who are determined to keep Middleton Walk-in Centre open.