Great Yarmouth MP backs plans to close £8m Greyfriars Health Centre - but hospital and patients raise concerns

Greyfriars Health Centre celebrating its 6th birthday.Picture: James Bass

Greyfriars Health Centre celebrating its 6th birthday.Picture: James Bass - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2015

An MP has defended plans to close a multi-million-pound health centre which opened less than five years ago, amid concern from hospital bosses and patients.

Greyfriars health centre in Yarmouth pictured when it opened.

Greyfriars health centre in Yarmouth pictured when it opened. - Credit: Archant © 2011

The Great Yarmouth and Waveney Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) wants to close Greyfriars Health Centre, on Greyfriars Way, Yarmouth, which includes a walk-in centre designed to take pressure off A&E, and an adjoining GP practice with more than 5,000 members.

The £8m centre only opened in its current form in 2012 – but CCG bosses say the walk-in centre is not used enough and had 'minimal impact towards reducing A&E attendances' at the James Paget University Hospital (JPH), in Gorleston.

A Norfolk County Council report found in May 2014 that 42pc of patients spoken to at Greyfriars said that they would have attended A&E if the walk-in centre had not been available. The CCG plans to mitigate the walk-in centre closure by 'enhancing' the NHS 111 helpline and expanding the GP-led out-of-hours primary care service at the JPH.

But in a statement to this newspaper, JPH boss Christine Allen, said the hospital had raised its own concerns with the CCG.

Christine Allen, chief executive of the James Paget, said: 'Great Yarmouth and Waveney CCG has made us aware of the planned closure of Greyfriars Health Centre in Great Yarmouth as discussed at the Urgent Care Board.

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'We have raised our concerns, which will be discussed by their governing body in a meeting to be held on Thursday.'

The closure of the health centre also means patients will be forced to move to other GP practices nearby.

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Brandon Lewis, MP for Great Yarmouth, supported the proposals and said: 'The walk-in service at Greyfriars is not being utilised to anything like its full capacity and the health service has to offer the best value for money for taxpayers.

'These changes mean the same services will be provided in a more efficient and effective way.'

But Greyfriars patient Glynnis Hazlewood, of Northgate Street, Yarmouth, said: 'I am devastated to hear that the centre may close.

'Where in Yarmouth are there enough practices to take on the 5,000 patients when there is a perfectly brilliant building with wonderful staff who are always willing to help.

'I don't drive and would find it impossible to make visits to take my husband to hospital when he could have been treated at Greyfriars.'

And another patient, who did not want to be named, said: 'If they go ahead with the closure it will put even more pressure on other surgeries meaning waiting times increase and fewer appointments available.

The proposals will be discussed publicly by the CCG at its board meeting tomorrow, 1.30pm, at Beccles House, Common Lane North, Beccles.

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