CLOSING walk-in-centres in north Essex would pile on more pressure to an already stretched A&E department, according to Colchester MP Will Quince.

The North East Essex Clinical Commission Group has launched a consultation about the future of walk-in centres, which could have a radical impact on care services.

The three options being considered are to create a single minor injury service wherever there is greatest need in Colchester and Tendring, close Colchester's walk-in centre and two minor injury units in Clacton and Harwich, or to continue the three centres with no changes.

Responding to the consultation, Conservative MP Mr Quince said he would like to see all three remain open, but does not think it is likely.

He said: "Speaking broadly, I have deep concerns over the direction which the North East Essex Clinical Commissioning Group (the CCG) is looking to travel.

"Even with services being provided by both the walk-in centre and the minor injuries units in Clacton and Harwich, there continues to be pressure on A&E services and it is forecast to grow.

"Whilst the principle being put forward is these services can be obtained by patients visiting their GP, everyone is aware of long waiting lists and difficulties in getting said appointments.

"This is driving visits to A&E, and steps to remove the walk-in centre will simply exacerbate this.

"Looking specifically at the recommendations, whilst the easiest and most popular option would undoubtedly be to simply keep the walk-in centre open as well as both minor injuries units, the existence of this consultation means that this will not be a feasible option.

"Nor do I consider the second recommendation of ceasing provision of services at the locations to be realistic."

He added: "We need to make more effective use of the walk-in centre in order to minimise pressure on A&E at Colchester General Hospital.

"Part of this will come down to triage – patients must be encouraged to visit the walk-in centre for minor injuries and illnesses and then redirected to A&E as required, just as patients visiting A&E with minor issues should be directed to the walk-in centre.

"As part of a long-term view, we should also be seeking to enhance services provided by the Walk-In Centre as we look to integrate different aspects of healthcare in the UK.

"While neither is in my constituency, I would urge the CCG to consider the knock-on effect of closing the minor injuries units in Harwich and Clacton on the ability of the walk-in centre and the A&E at Colchester General Hospital when making a decision on their future, especially with the future housing growth in the region."

To have your say on the plans visit