At a meeting on Wednesday (December 9), the governing body of the NHS East Sussex Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) approved proposals to close the Eastbourne Station Health Centre.
The decision follows a long-running public consultation process, which began in February and although suspended for several months as a result of the coronavirus pandemic was formally concluded in September.
Speaking at the meeting Jessica Britton, the CCG’s executive manager director, said: “I think it is really important that we acknowledge that the majority of those who chose to respond to the consultation did feel that these services should remain and the full independent analysis of the consultation responses have been provided here.
“We have very carefully considered all feedback we have received and we have reviewed that alongside all of the evidence and other information in making the recommendations we have here today.”
She added: “Critically, for me, our proposals have been amended following public consultation.
“Key themes we have heard and have drawn out for you in the report are the critical importance of continued access to town centre primary care services together with support for our vulnerable communities, particularly the homeless and rough sleeping community.”
According to the CCG proposals, the centre would not close its doors until the Victoria Medical Centre (set to open soon itself) establishes a branch surgery in town and the station health centre’s patients are transferred over to it.
The CGG says it will also commission drop-in clinics in the town centre – taking place at least once a week – to meet the medical and nursing needs of rough sleepers and homeless patients.
Even after this process is complete, the health centre would continue to offer walk-in services for a short period (likely two to three months) before closing completely.
This is expected to happen sometime in June 2021, but will be dependent on the branch surgery being established on time.
The CCG will then commission an interim service, which will operate out of the health centre providing nursing support, care navigation and signposting for patients to other services. This is likely to close by October 2021.
The governing body’s decision is set to be discussed at a meeting of the East Sussex Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee (HOSC) tomorrow (Thursday, December 10).
At the meeting councillors are expected to weigh whether the decision is “in the best interest of the health service in East Sussex” and whether to refer the decision to the Secretary of State for Health if not.