Campaigners hand over petition calling for a long-term commitment to Norwich walk-in health centre

Jess Asato and Clive Lewis with the walk-in centre petiton at Castle Mall. Photo: Bill Smith

Jess Asato and Clive Lewis with the walk-in centre petiton at Castle Mall. Photo: Bill Smith

Campaigners sent a firm message to NHS chiefs by presenting a petition signed by more than 1,000 people to protect a walk-in health centre in Norwich.

Tomorrow is decision day for Timber Hill Health Centre when city councillors consider plans for a new restaurant quarter on level four of the Castle Mall and proposals to relocate the facility to an empty shop unit on level two.

The two Labour parliamentary candidates for Norwich and supporters gathered outside the shopping centre today to present a petition signed by 1,300 people calling on the government to pledge its long-term commitment to an NHS walk-in service in Norwich.

Negotiations are ongoing between Norwich Practices Ltd (NPL), the tenant, InfraRed, the owner of Castle Mall, and NHS England, the organisation responsible for commissioning GP services after officials from NPL rejected proposals to relocate because of refit costs.

The Friends of Timber Hill group, which was formed last month, have been collecting signatures to petition the government to protect the services it delivers and to maintain funding beyond 2016.

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The Norwich Evening News also launched a petition urging NHS bosses to retain a walk-in health centre in the heart of Norwich, which received more than 400 signatures.

Timber Hill Health Centre currently provides walk-in services to more than 75,000 patients a year and has 8,000 patients registered at the GP practice.

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Clive Lewis, parliamentary candidate for Norwich South, said: 'I've rarely seen a campaign that's had such strong and passionate public support. I believe the Evening News and everyone else that got behind the walk-in centre campaign will have really made a difference to the final outcome.'

'If one thing became clear to me whilst working on this campaign it's the fact the overwhelming majority of people in this city believe passionately that a public NHS is worth standing up and fighting for.'

Jess Asato, parliamentary candidate for Norwich North, added: 'We've heard stories from hundreds of people for whom the Timber Hill Health Centre provides a vital facility and saves many the lengthy trip to A&E which is so costly to the NHS.'

Follow tomorrow for updates from the Norwich City Council planning committee.

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