Walk-in services will close at Loxford Polyclinic despite 4,000 plus signature petition in opposition

The Practice Loxford at Loxford Polyclinic, Ilford Lane, Ilford, was rated “inadequate” by the CQC o

The Practice Loxford at Loxford Polyclinic, Ilford Lane, Ilford, was rated inadequate by the CQC on its latest inspection. Picture: Google Street View - Credit: Archant

Walk-in services will be closed at Loxford Polyclinic – one of the most deprived and ethnically diverse areas in the borough – despite more than 4,000 people signing a petition in opposition.

Redbridge Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) – the body responsible for deciding which health services are provided in the borough – yesterday (November 8) confirmed that residents will instead have to dial 111 to book an appointment.

This decision comes after an 14-week consultation the CCG ran between May and September this year putting forward two proposals for restructuring community urgent care services across Barking and Dagenham, Havering and Redbridge.

The CCG said it received more than 1,000 responses to its consultation.

But a 4,421 signature petition opposing the closure of walk-in services was presented during a full council meeting in Redbridge Town Hall on September 20 this year.

Reacting to the news Redbridge Cllr Mark Santos, cabinet member for health, said: “We are very disappointed as to the decision of Redbridge CCG to change the ‘walk-in centre’ to a ‘bookable’ only service.

“However, the excellent campaign led by Clementswood and Loxford councillors has succeeded in securing assurances that nobody will be turned away and that a plan will be developed for a bigger offer of health services at the Loxford Polyclinic.”

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Cllr Santos said that the CCG and health scrutiny committee will monitor what effect the switch to the 111 service has on minorities and non-English speakers.

He also spoke of the CCG installing phones within the polyclinic so that those showing up without an appoint can book one, rather than being turned away.

An opthalmology centre, or eye clinic, will be set up at the polyclinic and finances will be “restructed” to incentivise more GPs join.

Redbridge CCG said that the change is expected to come into effect in October 2019.

However, Cllr Kam Rai, cabinet member for finance, said: “Residents are already feeling the walk-in service is being downgraded.”

“Local councillors are still going to keep campaigning to highlight the need of a walk-in service in Loxford.”

During September’s full council meeting, Goodmayes Ward (Lab) Cllr Neil Zammett told the chamber that he fears the closure of walk-in services would hurt the borough’s minorities.

He said: “We know that Loxford and Clementswood are among the most deprived and ethnically diverse area in London.”

Should walk-in services end, he added: “The CCG acknowledges that there will be a 16pc reduction in access.”

He spoke of how the NHS’s 111 call service “discriminates against Black and Asian” groups as well as the “economically deprived”.

Conservative Cllr Paul Canal also spoke in support of the petition.

He said: “We have to say enough is enough, we have to stop now and open a further polyclinic to help the people get the health care they deserve.”

Dr Arnold Fertig, independent GP from the BHR CCGs, said: “We are pleased that more than a year’s worth of quite complex work to reflect the feedback and opinions of thousands of local people, along with the national move towards increased use of an improved NHS 111 service and better equipped urgent treatment centres has come together and today been agreed.

“We still have a lot of work to do, to commission the new service and to pick up a number of issues raised by partners and to make sure that we effectively communicate the changes that will be made.

“Our aim all along has been clear – to provide a simpler, more effective and improved community urgent care service for local people. We can now get on and look to deliver what people have told us they want.”

People will still be able to walk in or book urgent appointments at any of the four following “urgent treatment centres”:

- King George Hospital, Barley Lane, Goodmayes

- Queen’s Hospital, Rom Valley Way, Romford

- Harold Wood Polyclinic, Gubbins Lane, Harold Wood

- Barking Community Hospital, Upney Lane, Barking