Norwich walk-in centre to move to new base this month

Work has started at Rouen House for the installation of the NHS Walk In Centre. Picture: DENISE BRAD

Work has started at Rouen House for the installation of the NHS Walk In Centre. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2015

Norwich's walk-in health centre will finally move into a new location next week, after more than a year of uncertainty over its fate.

The NHS facility, currently based in the Castle Mall, will close on May 31 and be transferred overnight to its new site at nearby Rouen House, where it will open the following morning.

The transfer is taking place in stages and the relocated centre will initially be operating on only 60 per cent of the new site, meaning that there will be a limit to the number of patients it can take.

The centre, which sees 78,000 patients a year and has around 8,000 patients registered for GP services there, had been under threat since the Castle Mall's owners, InfraRed, secured planning permission for a restaurant area in its current site.

The firm offered to provide another location in the shopping centre, but health officials said the site was not practical.

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The Evening News launched a campaign in April last year - backed by the then Norwich South MP Simon Wright, his successor Clive Lewis, and the Norwich North MP Chloe Smith - to keep the facility in the heart of the city. As part of the campaign we launched a petition which was signed by thousands of Norwich residents.

Steve Bloomfield, business manager at Norwich Practices Ltd, which runs the walk-in centre, said: 'We will be open at Castle Mall on May 31 and then we're planning to open at our new premises on June 1.

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'It's all happening on such a short timescale. We don't have to take everything with us but we have to make sure that everything is in place for when we open,'

He said constructors were 'pulling all the stops out' while working on the lower and ground floor of Rouen House to get everything ready for the move.

The walk-in centre is planned for the lower ground floor and the doctors' surgery will be on the ground floor.

Until the project is fully completed in early September, there will be a limit to the number of walk-in patients the centre will be able to take. In the interim the walk-in centre will be based alongside the GPs services on the ground floor.

'We want people to think about whether or not they need to come to our centre or if they would be better placed going elsewhere,' Mr Bloomfield said.

When it switches to Rouen House it will be its third home. It will be renamed Norwich Practices Health and Walk-in Centre.

Before it opened in Castle Mall - where it was known as the Timber Hill Health and Walk in Centre, it was based near Sainsbury's in Pound Lane, Thorpe St Andrew.

It left those premises in 2009.

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