The following announcement was made on Tuesday 30th March by Helen Clark the director of Primary Care at NHS Berkshire West Clinical Commissioning Group.
As you will know, the Reading Walk in Centre was re-purposed during the first wave of the Covid pandemic in March 2020 to enable the establishment of a Primary Care Respiratory Hub. As Covid-19 cases eased, the registered list service moved back into the Centre and the ‘walk’ in element was then subsequently re-introduced via an NHS 111 booking system. Patient numbers have been very low since then, at around 130 patients a week, and GPs on site say many of those attending could be dealt with over the telephone or within core primary care services. It has therefore now been agreed to temporarily suspend the ‘walk in’ service again from 1st April 2021 for a temporary period pending a public consultation around new models of access to primary care and the implications of a possible permanent cessation of the walk-in service. Only patients registered at the centre will be seen there during this time. The consultation will seek to capture people’s views about the wider use of primary care services, determine how, or where, people would opt to access same day care and understand their awareness of the alternative healthcare options available. We are aiming to start the public consultation on 7th May, immediately after we come out of Purdah. During the temporary suspension we will also be monitoring any demand placed on other parts of the Berkshire West healthcare system and the information collected during this time will be factored into our decisionmaking around the future of the service. I will provide further updates on the consultation in due course and want to assure you that no firm decisions will be made about future of the Walk in Centre until we have fully tested the potential impact of both a permanent cessation of the walk in element and of new models of primary care access. It is intended that the CCG’s contract with Virgin Care will continue until March 2022 and the services provided to patients registered at the Walk in Centre site will continue as normal during this time.