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NHS Walk-in Centres

Volume 571: debated on Tuesday 26 November 2013

The information is no longer collected centrally. Since 2007, under the changes introduced by the previous Government, the local NHS has been responsible for walk-in-centres, and it is for local commissioners to decide on the availability of these services.

Official NHS figures show that attendances at accident and emergency departments have increased more than three times faster under the Tory-led Government than under the Labour Government. Does the Minister regret allowing so many walk-in centres to close?

As I outlined, there are not any official figures, because the data are now held locally. Monitor carried out a survey of some trusts, but that is not a measure of all trusts. The hon. Gentleman wants to look at the reasons why there have been changes to walk-in centres. There was a reduction in central funding of over 90% under the previous Government. I believe that the right hon. Member for Leigh (Andy Burnham) was a Minister at the time; if the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull East (Karl Turner) wants to look at the reasons for that, he should perhaps ask his right hon. Friend why he reduced central funding for walk-in centres by 90%.

In 2005, under the Labour Government, Crawley hospital had its accident and emergency department closed. Now we have an urgent treatment centre that has increased its operating hours and the services that it provides. What advice can the Department give to clinical commissioners about how we can expand urgent treatment centres?

My hon. Friend is absolutely right to highlight that these are local decisions that need to be made by local commissioners, because what looks good in Crawley will be very different from the needs in Bradford. That was the very reason that underpinned the previous Government’s decision to transfer responsibility for these services to local commissioners, but we often need more co-located services, because the Monitor survey picked up the fact that in the past, far too often, walk-in centres were isolated in the community; people did not know how to access them, or when they could do so. Monitor also recognised that there was duplication of effort, and sometimes patients who needed to be seen in accident and emergency were treated, inappropriately, in walk-in centres.