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Closure of walk-in centres likely to impact on A&E services

A review by Monitor of the walk-in centre service has found that the closure of 50 out of the 230 centres in England in the last three years is likely to have resulted in more people going to A&E, says a report by BBC News.

As part of its review, Monitor surveyed just under 1,900 patients at 20 walk-in centres. When patients were asked where they would have gone if the walk-in centre had not been available, 21% said they would have gone to A&E, while a third would go to their own or a different GP.
The poll also found 22% had tried to contact a GP practice but found no appointment, or none at a convenient time. And 24% did not even try to contact a GP because they did not think they would get an appointment.

Many contracts for walk-in centres are up for renewal in 2014 and the review found confusion about who should decide on their fate, and said decisions had possibly been put off because of the upheaval in the NHS, reports the BBC.

Some commissioners also felt they were "paying twice" for patients, once with the GP they are registered with and a second time for their treatment at the walk-in centre.

But Monitor believes there should be careful thought about possible closures: "We've been told that one in five people would choose to go to an accident and emergency department if the walk-in centre wasn't there for them.

"While it is for commissioners to decide whether to keep a walk-in centre open, we need to make sure that the needs of patients are fully considered before decisions are taken."