Hundreds sign petition to stop the closure of Bath's NHS walk-in clinic
Nearly 700 people have put their name to a petition to stop the closure of the city's NHS walk-in clinic.
In a bid to cut costs and avoid what it calls duplication, the Bath and North East Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) wants to transfer services offered by GPs and nurses at the centre in James Street West to the Royal United Hospital.
The suggestion has angered people who regularly use the centre, with many saying the RUH is too far to travel when they need medical care.
An online petition set up by the Bath Labour Party action team has attracted nearly 700 signatures, and campaigners are urging people to make their views known.
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The group is asking the CCG to address several areas of concern, including access at the RUH for vulnerable people and those who struggle to afford bus fares, and how visitors to Bath will cope.
They also feel that moving the service to the RUH would increase pressure on the accident and emergency department, and on the ambulance service.
Labour spokeswoman Marilyn Freeman said: "Other important questions still have not been fully answered.
"This is not a party political issue. It affects all people equally, and we now need people of all political persuasions to get behind our petition to call a halt to the closure plans until we are all satisfied that it is the right decision for the people of Bath."
Closing the walk-in centre and stopping services altogether would save £1.3 million. By creating a 24-hour GP service at the RUH there would be a one-off saving of £500,000, with ongoing savings of around £150,000 a year, which the CCG has said will be invested in services for people with dementia and diabetes, and the elderly.
CCG chair Dr Ian Orpen has addressed a series of public meetings across B&NES, explaining the plans and why it feels it is necessary to close the walk-in centre.
In particular he said it would save money as virtually all the patients using the centre are already registered at their own surgery, so the taxpayer is effectively paying twice.
Comments on the petition have highlighted the feeling that it is the wrong decision to close the centre.
Dean Howell said: "An amazing service for out of hours care and help, why lose it? Madness."
Hanna Mears said: "Being a former resident in Bath, this service has provided invaluable help, both to me and my friends in urgent situations. Please, please reconsider your position on this."
The CCG, which will take control of the local health service next April, plans to move services to the RUH from March 2014.
The petition can been found at www.change.org, search for halt the process of closing Bath Riverside walk-in centre.