The recently-introduced drop-in phlebotomy clinic for people needing urgent blood tests, as well as the six-day-a-week needle exchange point are now up and running to provide essential support for local people.
With these services in place, and others currently being finalised, the opening hours of the Walk-in Centre can now be reduced as part of the next phase of the withdrawal process.
From Monday 9 March until Sunday 15 March, the walk-in service will be available from 8am until 4pm.
The final phase of the closure plans will begin on Monday 16 March when the opening hours are reduced further to 8am to 2pm.
These opening hours will then be in place until the Walk-in Centre closes on Tuesday 31 March.
Currently, the Walk-in Centre, which is located on the ground floor of the larger Swindon NHS Health Centre, is open to people wanting nurse-led care and treatment for minor injuries and illness between the hours of 8am and 6pm.
As is the case now, the team will aim to see all patients before the end of each day however, when the waiting room is busy, people arriving within one hour of the advertised closing time are not guaranteed to be seen.
Gill May, Director of Nursing and Quality, Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire Clinical Commissioning Group, said:
“It was never our intention to remove the walk-in service without any prior warning or preparation and, by reducing the opening hours in this gradual way, we are able to not only monitor the impact the withdrawal has on other local healthcare services, but also respond to any unforeseen issues that occur.
“As the move away from walk-in centres is one that is happening across the country, we have been looking carefully at what has happened in other towns and cities after their centres have closed and, thankfully, the impact has been minimal.
“We’re optimistic that this will also be the case in Swindon, especially as a number of other services designed to support the transition are proving popular with both staff and patients.
“Of course, we’ll be watching the situation closely and are fully prepared to step in at any time to support our colleagues across the health and care system, whether it is before, during or after we end the provision.”
The new phlebotomy clinic at the Swindon NHS Health Centre is open every weekday between 8am and 12.30pm, and can provide blood tests without an appointment, while the needle exchange point, based in the ground floor pharmacy, offers a safe environment for people to collect clean and sterile drug equipment.
Work is now under way to introduce a dedicated wound care clinic, either at the Swindon NHS Health Centre or at another location in the town, which will also operate on a drop-in basis.
Patients attending before Wednesday 1 April will still be seen by the team of nurses and paramedics, but will be advised of alternative healthcare options, such as contacting their GP practice, visiting a pharmacy or using the NHS 111 service.
The Walk-in Centre’s withdrawal will not impact on any of the other services based in the Swindon NHS Health Centre, such as the two GP practices, pharmacy, sexual health clinic and emergency dentist, all of which will continue to run as normal.
Earlier this month, the CCG held a public meeting in which local people had the chance to find out more about the end of the walk-in service.
Information from the meeting can be found online by visiting www.swindonccg.nhs.uk.