Headlines: May 17th, 1999

The announcement by Prime Minister Tony Blair in April that walk-in centres would be set up to provide information and treatment for minor conditions has prompted widespread interest. Some 60 Primary Care Groups, GP out-of-hours co-operatives, Health Authorities and NHS Trusts have, so far, come forward with proposals for becoming walk in centres.

Centres will offer patients more flexible primary care from 7am until 10pm weekdays and at weekends and no appointment will be necessary. They will build on the work of local GP’s and will run alongside existing Accident and Emergency units, minor injuries clinics, and GP surgeries.

Applications to run centres can be made until the end of June and they must be supported by the local Primary Care Group. Some 20 pilots will be selected from applicants and they will be up and running by the end of the financial year. If the pilots prove successful the centres will be rolled out nationally.

Walk in centres are part of a wider programme to modernise the ‘front door’ of the NHS, including development of NHS Direct, and refurbishment of Accident and Emergency Departments. Tony Blair announced that an overall package of 280 million pounds over the next 3 years would be devoted to promote these initiatives.