A MAJOR shake-up of NHS walk-in centres nationally threatens the future of a valued local service, accessed by 8,000 patients a year over a wide area, extending from Milford and Elstead to Fernhurst and from Churt to Liphook and Bordon.

Haslemere Hospital Minor Injuries Unit supports 4,800 patients registered with a Guildford and Waverley GP practice, and more than 2,000 registered with a Hampshire GP practices and 400 registered with a West Sussex GP.

But the unit, which is the only walk-in centre in Guildford and Waverley apart from the Royal Surrey County Hospital A&E in Guildford, is now at risk as it fails to meet new guidance issued by NHS England.

Urgent care is defined as medical care provided for illnesses and injuries that require prompt attention but are not serious enough to require an emergency service.

Urgent care services are provided by NHS 111, GP and GP Out-Of-Hours services, and non-emergency walk-in centres, minor injuries units, and urgent treatment centres.

NHS England wants to standardise urgent care services, which it says patients find confusing, by creating Urgent Treatment Centres, which will be GP-led, open at least 12 hours a day, seven days a week, and able to diagnose and deal with many of the most common ailments seen in A&E.

Haslemere Minor Injuries Unit falls short as it is staffed by emergency care nurses, has limited GP cover and is open from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.

Guildford and Waverley Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has just launched a consultation – Better Care Together – to get feedback on how it can improve urgent care services to meet the new requirements and what changes would help the most.

The CCG is considering whether an Urgent Treatment Centre is needed to meet the needs of people in Guildford, Waverley and surrounding areas and if so, where it would best be located.

The consultation starts at the end of July and through August with a Better Care Together road show parked up at events across the patch to raise awareness. In September, the CCG will hold a series of drop-in engagement workshops across Guildford and Waverley.

* For more information, visit: www.guildfordandwaverleyccg.nhs.uk