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Walk-in service closed and GP hours slashed at Hornsey polyclinic

PUBLISHED: 11:23 16 August 2010 | UPDATED: 17:05 07 September 2010

PATIENTS in Haringey were dealt a double blow this week when it was announced the popular walk-in centre at the Hornsey polyclinic has been axed and GP hours slashed - less than six months after the service began. The decision by health chiefs will leave

PATIENTS in Haringey were dealt a double blow this week when it was announced the popular walk-in centre at the Hornsey polyclinic has been axed and GP hours slashed - less than six months after the service began.

The decision by health chiefs will leave a third of staff out of work. The Queenswood Medical Practice relocated into the Hornsey Central Neighbourhood Health Centre in Crouch End in February. The move followed a public consultation and was accompanied by a pledge for longer opening hours for their 17,000 patients.

As well as registered patient appointments from 8am to 8pm, seven days a week, the GP surgery was also commissioned by NHS Haringey to provide a walk-in centre service with the same hours, as part of a pilot project. The service provided treatment for patients who were not registered with a doctor or unable to get an appointment with their own GP.

The walk-in centre will be "suspended" and GPs have been told they can only work normal extended hours for registered patients, meaning no appointments will be available on Sunday or on Saturday afternoons. Both those services will end on September 1 after less than a month's notice because NHS Haringey says there is too much of a duplication with other services they provide.

A source close to the practice said staff were devastated they could no longer provide patients with the services they had promised them after assurances from the PCT earlier this year.

She said: "What we are very worried about is that patients have not been consulted and that we came into this building with a promise to our patients that we would work these extended hours.

"It has been a good service, it's what our patients wanted and we would love to continue it.

"We were always aware the walk-in centre was a pilot project, but the loss of extended opening hours for our patients is a huge concern, especially as it was established after lots of public consultation."

Liberal Democrat health spokesman and local councillor David Winskill branded the moves "a shambles", saying: "This move to cut services casts doubt on their ability to fulfil any of the pledges they have been making to the residents of Haringey over the past few years. A real shambles is developing in the overall provision of polyclinics in the borough.

"Our A&E is under threat and what we are supposed to have to substitute - the polyclinics - are now not going to be delivered."

Last month, 700 patients attended the walk-in centre and 62 people received medical help last Saturday.

Health chiefs say patients also have access to extended GP hours, local A&Es and NHS direct.

From 6.30pm each evening, the PCT commissions an out-of-hours service which will now be provided by a private company after "financial problems" with Camidoc, the not-for-profit co-operative which has operated for more than a decade.

A spokeswoman for NHS Haringey confirmed the walk-in would be suspended but said: "Queenswood will be open for its registered patients and will be offering extended opening hours. This will next be evaluated to see how it complements the other ways of accessing care as we have a responsibility to use public money wisely.

"It was always our intention to continue the pilot whilst completing our evaluation. Due to the financial difficulties of the service this is no longer an option.

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