05:45PM, Wednesday 26 January 2022
An NHS group has issued fresh reassurances about St Mark’s Hospital’s future – but Lib Dems have called for ‘clarity’ about the reopening of the walk-in facility.
Back in October, the Frimley Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) told the Advertiser that the permanent closure of the minor illness and injury clinic in St Mark’s Road was ‘not being considered’.
It comes after the coronavirus pandemic forced the walk-in facility to close in April 2020 to combat the spread of the virus.
Residents who use the centre have been calling for it to reopen as virus cases level out, with concerns raised over when it will welcome patients again.
Frimley CCG said in a statement last week that it was ‘aware of a story circulating questioning the future viability of the hospital’ – which it later confirmed did not come from the media but from ‘other channels’.
But leader of the Royal Borough’s Liberal Democrat group, Councillor Simon Werner (Pinkneys Green), claims that the Frimley CCG has not provided any ‘clarity’ on the situation.
“We need a date,” he said. “The CCG are refusing to confirm whether they are going to reopen it again.
“How they are spinning it is that there is an urgent care centre there, and they are saying it is the same thing.
“It clearly isn’t because it takes you ages to get through for an appointment.
“Our campaign is to get the CCG to commit to reopening the walk-in facility. They are not committing to keep it closed and they are not committing to keep it open – they are being vague and Maidenhead needs clarity.”
Frimley CCG said in a statement that an ‘urgent on-the-day service’ is already open at St Mark’s Hospital, which is bookable through GP practices.
It says that a ‘wider public engagement exercise’ will be held on how services post-pandemic can best be delivered.
It repeated its previous statement that ‘closure of the urgent care centre is not being considered’.
A spokesman added: “Workforce availability has been a challenge through the Omicron surge and vaccination booster campaign, and now this is settling we are working on pro-active communication to the public about the services available – we expect to have this ready in early February.
“Infection prevention and control arrangements are still in place across the NHS and preclude any walk-in activity at this site due to its limited waiting facilities, and we will re-visit this at the appropriate time.”
Caroline Farrar, the Frimley CCG’s executive managing director for the Royal Borough, added: “Since we reiterated our commitment to the St Mark’s site in October last year nothing has changed to affect that support.
“In fact quite the reverse in that we have worked with GP practices to provide more services from St Mark’s, where a new GP-led urgent care service is helping to tackle the difficulties some people have been experiencing in accessing face-to-face appointments.”
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