Norwich MPs calls for action to resolve NHS walk-in centre uncertainty

Castle Mall ,NHS Timber Hill health centre.

Castle Mall ,NHS Timber Hill health centre. - Credit: ©Archant Photographic 2010

Norwich's two MPs have called for urgent action to address the uncertainty surrounding a busy NHS walk-in centre.

A question mark was raised about the future of the Timber Hill Health Centre after Castle Mall owners unveiled plans for a new restaurant quarter, which would make the centre homeless.

However, Norwich Practices Ltd, which runs the GP surgery and walk-in centre have rejected an offer to move from level four to level two of the mall because of the 'significant additional cost' of relocating the facility.

The two MPs for Norwich have now united to try and resolve the matter to ensure that local patients do not miss out when the lease for the health centre expires in September. The purpose-built centre, which is open from 7am to 9pm, has grown from 65,000 walk-in cases in 2010 to almost 75,000 a year. The GP practice also has 8,000 registered patients on its books and is the main travel advice centre in the Norwich area.

Chloe Smith, MP for Norwich North, has written to NHS bosses urging them to 'don't move our walk-in centre' and has called for an urgent meeting of all parties involved. She has also written to NHS England - the organisation responsible for commissioning GP services - urging them to do everything in their power to resolve the matter.

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She said: 'I am very concerned that the health centre may move elsewhere in the city, and particularly if an option is being considered of moving out of the city centre to the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. People living to the north of the city need a convenient location for the walk-in centre facility and thousands of patients will be affected if the centre moves.'

'We fought tooth and nail to stop the walk-in centre moving from Dussindale, some years ago. A new location should surely fulfil these needs and serve my constituents to the north of the city conveniently.'

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Simon Wright, MP for Norwich South, has also written to Simon Stevens, the chief executive of NHS England, asking him to intervene.

He said: 'I'm very disappointed that the lease is not going to be renewed at the current site. The Timber Hill Health Centre has proved to be very popular with local people, and the walk-in provision helps to ease pressure on A&E.'

'The service it provides has been particularly successful in encouraging groups who can be reluctant to register with a GP, especially young people, to get health advice. Clear backing from NHS England for this service could make a real difference in resolving the current uncertainty.'

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