Government plans to extend the coverage of NHS walk-in centres to rail and underground stations has been welcomed by the Men's Health Forum.
Health Minister John Hutton announced plans last week to build seven 'state-of-the-art' centres within a few minutes walk of popular commuter stations in London (four centres), Newcastle, Manchester and Leeds. Around 25 million will be invested in the seven centres over the first three years. For the first time, the Department of Health is inviting bids from independent organisations to run stand-alone NHS walk-in centres.
'GP walk in centres at railway stations could be particularly good news for men, who remain very reluctant to visit their local GP,' said Peter Baker, Director of Men's Health Forum 'But it is essential that these new services are properly marketed so that men are made aware of their existence and are encouraged to use them. Moreover, ordinary GP services will remain the backbone of primary care and it is vital that they also become more accessible for men. Their current hours of opening are simply not providing a good enough services for most men'.
Advertisements inviting independent organisations to run the centres have appeared in the media. The centres, which will also be open to local residents, must be open from 7am-7pm without having to book an appointment and offer services tailored to patients' needs, such as physiotherapy and the monitoring of long term conditions through blood pressure checks; the treatment of minor injuries; and prescriptions and pharmacy services.
The Department of Health also drew attention to a survey Mori had carried out for it in which almost two thirds (63 per cent) of commuters questioned said they would use an NHS commuter Walk in Centre if they were feeling ill. It is estimated that over 30,000 patients per year will benefit from treatment at the seven new centres. The new centres will open in Spring 2005. If the clinics are a success, several more could be rolled out in other major cities across the country.
A total of 57 Walk in Centres are now operational across the country. A further 25 sites are currently being developed:
Birmingham - City
Exeter - Royal Devon Finchley
Lewisham - New Cross
Liverpool -Old Swan
Manchester Airport Newcastle -Westgate
Stoke on Trent
Whittington - Archway
Wirral - Victoria Central
Wirral - Arrowe Park
25 Under Development
Ilford - Central
Newham - Stratford
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Page updated on December 1st, 2009