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Fears that the future of Newark Hospital could be threatened if a new walk-in health centre is set up in the area were raised at a public meeting on Tuesday.

The meeting at Balderton Village Centre was called by Nottinghamshire Primary Care Trust to give people a chance to have their say on plans for a centre, staffed by GPs, that would be open from 8am-8pm.

The trust has been given government money for the project and has earmarked three possible locations — Newark, Hucknall, and Mansfield and Ashfield.

A location will be chosen by the trust’s board in July, and the centre will be open by April.

County councillor Mr Keith Walker had grave concerns about having the centre in Newark.

He was worried that half the patients who currently went to the accident and emergency department at Newark Hospital would go to the centre instead.

He said that if the number of people using accident and emergency fell by that extent the department’s future could be put at risk, and that could ultimately affect the whole hospital.

“If Newark lost its accident and emergency department they will chip away at the rest of the services and we will lose the hospital,” he said.

His wife, Balderton parish councillor Mrs Inga Walker, agreed and said she wanted money to be spent on improvements at the hospital.

She urged people to send letters and petitions to the trust reinforcing the need for the hospital.

Balderton parish councillor Mr Walter Hurst was concerned that the centre would duplicate the services already provided by the hospital and GP surgeries.

“We need to enhance these services rather than provide something that is a duplication,” he said.

There was support at the meeting for the walk-in health centre.

Health improvement practitioner Amy Connell, of Farndon, said that when she needed a non-urgent appointment she was told it would be a three-week wait for a consultation that took five minutes.

“If we have a walk-in centre it would be beneficial for patients,” she said.

Anna Hickman, of Spring Lane, Balderton, who works with people with physical disabilities, welcomed the idea.

She said it would offer a choice to people who found it difficult to get access to a GP.

Mr Ken Fletcher, a district and parish councillor, said it was important the trust remembered that there could be a huge population growth in the Newark area through the Growth Point development.

He said Newark was constantly losing out when it came to services.

“People get fed up with everything going to Mansfield,” he said.

On Monday Mr Paul Jones, the trust’s contracting GP liaison manager, gave a presentation about the centre to a meeting of Newark and Sherwood District Council’s policy overview and scrutiny committee.

He said the centre would be open to registered and non-registered patients and could offer a range of services including minor surgery, orthopaedic and palliative care.

He said the money had to be used for the centre and not for the expansion or replacement of existing facilities.

He said the tight timescale meant there would not be enough opportunity to provide a new building and it would be housed in an existing one.

He said there had been mixed views from GPs. Some felt it would provide a needed service but others saw it as competition and were concerned it could have an effect on their list sizes.

“Some see it as a threat, others see it as an opportunity,” he said.

The public can give their views until June 2 by email to bestplaceforhealth @nottspct.nhs.uk or by post to Best Place For Health, Primary Care Contracting Team, Nottinghamshire PCT, Byron Court, Brookfield Gardens, Arnold.



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