Rally planned to protest against walk-in closure

Protest against the closure of Greyfriars Medical centre, Yarmouth.

Protest against the closure of Greyfriars Medical centre, Yarmouth. - Credit: Nick Butcher

A march has been planned by campaigners who are against the closure of the borough’s only walk-in clinic.

The route of the march through the town centre. Picture: Save Grayfriars Health centre

The route of the march through the town centre. Picture: Save Grayfriars Health centre - Credit: Archant

The health centre in Howard Street South will permanently close next Thursday with the last walk-in patients seen the day before.

Protestors will meet at St George’s Park at 10.45pm the day after, Friday.

They plan to march to the Marina Centre, Joyland, Victoria Arcade, Christchurch/St George’s Theatre, the Salvation Army, Greyfriars and Market Gates.

Guest speakers, including Labour’s Norwich MP Clive Lewis will speak outside in the Market Place.

Also attending will be Jo Rust from Unison and Kings Lynn Trade Council, Emma Corlett, a local councillor and NHS campaigner and Frank Wood Unite’s executive member to NHS.

Kevin Reynolds of Unite said: “Unite stands fully behind this grassroots campaign to defend NHS services in Great Yarmouth. While Andy Evans swans off into comfortable retirement, the people of Yarmouth are saddled with his legacy of cuts and closures.”

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Tony Crone has been campaigning since the plans to close the walk-in clinic were announced in May. He urged people to join the march.

NHS Great Yarmouth and Waveney Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) bosses said the walk-in centre was not used enough and had “minimal impact towards reducing A&E attendances” at the James Paget.

Their own figures show that between April 2014 and March 2015 the average attendance per day was 28, with around half of those being people from outside the Great Yarmouth and Waveney area, however the report noted the centre was busier during the holiday season.

At weekends, 57 patients attend per day, with a third of them coming from outside the area.

A Norfolk County Council report found in May 2014 that 42pc of patients spoken to at Greyfriars said that they would have attended A&E if the walk-in centre had not been available.

CCG bosses said a range of replacement services have been put in place, including increased out-of-hours services and an enhanced NHS 111 telephone service, which will direct people to the most appropriate service to meet their needs.

The Greyfriars site will continue to be used but only as an appointment-only out-of-hours hub for people who have contacted 111 and need to see a GP at weekends and on bank holidays.

Posters and flyers about the replacement services have been sent to holiday parks, GP surgeries, schools, pharmacies, dentists and the James Paget University Hospital, while a poster campaign is also taking place along the seafront and in the town centre.

Andy Evans, chief executive of the CCG, said: “We have been working hard to put these enhanced services in place so that patients can access the right care in the right place, provided by those with the right skills.

“We are now reminding local people of the wide range of healthcare help which is available to them, which includes expert advice from pharmacists, guidance from NHS 111 and help from their GP for illnesses that won’t go away.”