To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of the effect of NHS GP walk-in centre closures on (a) demand on (i) hospital accident and emergency departments, (ii) ambulance services and (iii) nearby GP practices and (b) access to healthcare for tourists, temporary students, office workers, rough sleepers and other patients with enhanced needs for walk-in treatment in town centres; and if he will make a statement.
The Department does not hold a recent definitive figure for the number of walk-in-centres (WiCs) nationally. WiCs were developed locally and over time the nomenclature for them and the services they offer have overlapped with other services such as Minor Injury Units and Urgent Care Centres.
Due to this difficulty in specifically identifying WiCs, it is not possible to identify the number of closures. Because WICs are managed locally, information on them, as well on demand for and access to services across local health services, is not held centrally.
As WiCs were developed locally, their effectiveness and cost effectiveness is a local issue. However, a limited study was undertaken by Monitor, the organisation formerly responsible for ensuring healthcare provision in NHS England, and now part of NHS Improvement. This covered the period 2010-13 and consulted patients, walk-in centre providers, general practitioners, commissioners and other stakeholders in the sector.