Hospital and ambulance service comment on closure of Greyfriars GP practice and Great Yarmouth walk-in centre report

Greyfriars Medical Centre, Yarmouth (Picture: Nick Butcher)

Greyfriars Medical Centre, Yarmouth (Picture: Nick Butcher) - Credit: Nick Butcher

The controversial decision to close a Great Yarmouth walk-in medical centre has been justified, a report has said.

Last September the Greyfriars GP practice and walk-in centre was closed by the NHS Great Yarmouth and Waveney Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) despite a hard-fought campaign to save it.

The closure led to patients being referred to an enhanced NHS 111 phone service or the James Paget University Hospital and increased out of hours primary care during weekends and bank holidays.

A briefing paper by the CCG says the closure decision has been justified on the grounds it has not had a detrimental impact on accident and emergency admissions at the James Paget University Hospital and the region's ambulance service.

The report was prepared by Emma Bray, head of clinical commissioning at the CCG.

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It shows that in September 2016 there were 5,622 attendances of people from the Yarmouth and Waveney area to the hospital's accident and emergency department, while that figure was down to 5,344 in November 2016.

The report also says there has been 'very little impact on ambulance incident responses with no indication of increased activity following the closure'.

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It also states that an 'additional ability to stream patients admitting to A&E has also benefitted the system'.

The report, which was presented to the Great Yarmouth and Waveney Joint Health Scrutiny Committee concludes: 'The CCG believes that this evidence supports the decision to close the walk-in centre.'

The £8m Greyfriars health centre was opened in 2009.

When it closed the 5,125 patients at the GP practice were to be automatically allocated to other practices in the town.

The James Paget University Hospital and the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust have both said the closure of the Greyfriars health centre did not have an impact on operations.

Graham Wilde, chief operating officer at the James Paget University Hospital, said: 'Analysis indicates that the measures put in place following the closure of the Greyfriars walk-in centre have so far had a positive effect. 'However, it is important to note that overall A&E attendances at our hospital have shown year-on-year increases every month during 2016/17 – and the public can continue to help us by choosing wisely and only attending A&E in a genuine emergency.'

An EEAST spokesperson said: 'Following the closure of the Greyfriars clinic and walk-in centre in Yarmouth, there has been little impact on ambulance responses both in number of incidents and time to respond in the area.'

Earlier this month the CCG appointed a new chief officer, Melaine Craig who replaced former health boss Andy Evans.

The MP for Yarmouth Brandon Lewis said he is looking forward to meeting her, and will tell her about previous mistakes made by the organisation.

Mr Lewis said: 'I believe our local CCG has made some bad decisions recently for our area, including the closure of our Great Yarmouth walk in centre.

'Hopefully this new appointment will lead to a better approach for things going forward.'

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