NHS bosses have confirmed that they are working on plans for a new GP-led centre at Guy's Hospital to replace the existing minor injuries unit.
Last week we reported on concerns that the minor injuries unit is being wound down. Its opening hours were slashed nearly a year ago and there is no sign of a return to the previous 12-hours-a-day service.
The cut in hours at Guy's was made as a result on growing pressure on the accident and emergency department at St Thomas' Hospital where patient numbers have soared by an estimated 14,000 in just two years.
Now the NHS foundation trust which runs SE1's two hospitals has told us that a new urgent care centre – with longer opening hours and a wider range of services than the existing minor injuries unit – could open at Guy's Hospital within a matter of months.
The minor injuries unit is run by nurse practitioners but if the urgent care centre plan goes ahead doctors would also be available to treat patients without the need for an appointment.
A spokesman for Guy's and St Thomas NHS Foundation Trust said: "We are working with NHS Southwark and local GPs to develop new services at Guy's so that local people get a better service.
"Subject to consultation, this includes proposals for a new GP-led urgent care centre, which we hope to open in the summer of this year. This will be available to all patients, whether or not they are registered.
"These developments are part of our plans to help people find the right care at the right time and avoid unnecessary trips to A&E."
An NHS Southwark spokesman said: "With the urgent care centre we are aiming to provide a more enhanced service than that currently provided by the minor injuries unit as it will also provide the full range of services provided by a normal GP practice, often known as minor illness.
"The current reorganisation of the NHS is all about putting local GP clinicians in charge of deciding what health care to buy for their patients and they have been fully supportive of the proposals."
Noel Lynch, chair of the London Green Party, is not convinced by the health service's assurances.
"Our fears about the minor injuries unit being wound down have unfortunately been confirmed," he said.
"The trust has not shown how a new GP-led facility will serve people living and working locally better nor how it will relieve pressure on A&E departments more effectively.
"There needs to be comprehensive and meaningful consultation with local residents and workers before decisions are taken, to ensure that the services provided meet people's needs."
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