Anger over closure of south Bristol walk-in health centre

Posted on November 25, 2009. Filed under: News stories | Tags: |

Bristol Evening Post | NHS Bristol | 25 November 2009

People in south Bristol are angry that a walk-in health centre in Knowle West is to close.

The flagship centre at Knowle West Health Park was one of the first in the country when it opened in September 2000.

Local people were involved in the design of the health park and were delighted that they could be treated for minor ailments and injuries in the evenings and at weekends.

But NHS Bristol says the walk-in centre will close once the new South Bristol Community Hospital is built in Hengrove Park and there will be a walk-in clinic there instead.

Statistics show that people living in Knowle West have poorer health than the rest of the city – life expectancy is, on average, 10 years less than in other areas.

Users of the health park say the walk-in centre at the community hospital should be “as well as, not instead of” the one in Downton Road.

Rose Manning, chairwoman of Knowle West Health Park, fears the transfer of facilities could be the thin end of the wedge.

A cafe in the same building is to close on December 23. People who go to exercise, art, child health and complementary therapy groups all meet there.

A recent exhibition on plans for the regeneration of Knowle West showed the health park shaded in yellow – where housing is planned.

Urban Initiatives, the consultant which drew up the plans, denied that homes were planned on the large site but said there would be changes.

Mrs Manning said: “The health park only opened nine years ago. There are a lot of services here, the William Budd Health Centre, the dialysis unit and the cafe, as well as the walk-in centre.

“It is on a large site. Some people, but not local people, would like to see much of this turned into housing.

“People have been asked if they would be prepared to give up 50 per cent of the health park in return for other things they would like to see. Local people are not prepared to give up the health park.”

It may be a few years before the walk-in clinic transfers to Hengrove Park, because the foundations have not yet been laid for the £54 million South Bristol Community Hospital.

The 60-bed hospital was originally supposed to have been finished by the autumn of this year. That target was then put back to early next year but NHS Bristol, which is responsible for health spending in the city, now says it is aiming for construction work to be completed by 2012.

Ben Bennett, Associate Director of Strategic Development NHS Bristol, said: “The PCT has developed plans to commission outpatient clinics for children which will operate from the space released by the transfer of the walk-in centre.

“Previously the PCT undertook a specific engagement exercise with local people in Knowle West to consider what factors were felt to be important in identifying alternative uses for the walk-in centre space.

“The feedback from local people indicated a strong preference for community health services for children and families. There is still some considerable time before services move out of the walk-in centre once the new hospital has been built.

“The details of the specific clinics which will be offered will be confirmed nearer to the time of the planned start date in 2012, and in advance of this we would expect there to be further opportunities for local people to learn about the services to be provided.”

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