A BUSY borough walk-in centre will close later this year as plans for a 24/7 urgent care service at Russells Hall Hospital are rolled out.

Dudley Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has announced it will not renew the contract for Holly Hall walk-in centre, which treats 50,000 patients every year, from September.

When the plan was announced last year, there were concerns that the closure of the popular centre, which opens until 8pm, would force patients to choose between busy GP surgeries and already overstretched A&E departments.

But the hundreds of residents attending the Dudley Borough Healthcare Forum last night (Thursday) were told the new centre, that is scheduled to open in October, would be open 24/7.

Chief accountable officer, Paul Maubach said more than 3,000 people had responded to the consultation regarding the borough’s urgent care service, which was launched after the CCG decided the current walk-in centre did not “offer the best service during normal working hours”.

He said those who responded to the consultation had voiced concerns about the availability of car parking spaces at the hospital.

Mr Maubach explained that once the centre was up and running and there was an improved access to primary care it is hoped there would be more parking spaces as less people would be visiting the hospital’s A&E department.

Patients would also be able to phone ahead and book appointments, which Mr Maubach said would also help reduce the time spent on the hospital site and reduce the charges.

He continued: “I’m not sure we can promise you will be in and out within 20 minutes and have free parking but if you book in advance you should be seen in a reasonable time. People that have booked will get a quicker service than those who walk-in.”

Clinical executive, Dr Steve Mann, explained the vision for the centre: “This will be a 24/7 hour centre that will allow patients to be assessed based on their medical needs and ensure that patients get the right help at the right place at the right time.”

Although the service specification is still “a work in progress” Dr Mann said there would be a triage nurse and a shared IT system, which will be created for the borough’s GPs would ensure that electronic patient records would be accessible.

All feedback will now be used to write up the service specification, which will then be scrutinised before a tender is put out to find someone to run the service.