Councillors have expressed concerns about the future of a “vital” walk-in centre which could close in March.
Representatives from Brent clinical commissioning group (CCG) noted plans to stop services there as part of the wider vision of the Government and NHS England.
Dr Jahan Mahmoodi, a clinical director at the CCG, explained that the nationwide direction of travel is to close walk-in centres and promote GP ‘access hubs’.
“The evidence suggests patients are not seeking walk-in access but are seeking primary care in other ways,” he said.
“The Government has mandated increased access to primary care in a more joined up way that doesn’t involve the fragmentation associated with walk-in centres.”
He explained that the key issues surround access to medical records – which is not available at walk-in centres – and familiarity of doctors.
“Patients want to make sure that the clinician they are speaking to has access to their notes,” he said.
“And rather than having to go to a walk-in centre that’s far away, they can see someone where it is convenient for them.”
But Cllr Ahmad Shahzad, of Mapesbury ward, said there are many residents who rely on the current system.
“I have spoken to so many people who say they depend on these services, they are absolutely vital. We, as a local authority, should be supporting them,” he said.
He was backed up by his fellow ward councillor Lia Colacicco who described the situation as “head versus heart”.
She acknowledged the advantages of GP hubs and noted that, after a conversation with CCG representatives, she could see walk-in centres as “outdated”.
But she questioned the impact on those who frequently use the walk-in centre, particularly older residents and those with language barriers.
The CCG explained it will carry out a “comprehensive and robust engagement” to ensure that everyone’s view is heard.
It reiterated the importance of utilising the 111 advice phone number and that it will outline alternative options for patients in the future.