05:25PM, Wednesday 06 October 2021
A plea has been made to reopen the minor illness and injury unit at St Mark’s Hospital in Maidenhead.
The walk-in facility temporarily closed at the start of the coronavirus pandemic in April last year but 18 months on it still remains shut.
Cookham resident Michelle Simmonds said the continued closure means her nearest minor injuries services are now in Bracknell, Henley or High Wycombe.
The 67-year-old, whose husband Albert suffers from multiple health conditions including heart failure and diabetes, tried to visit the walk-in unit last week after her partner fell over.
But after discovering the service was closed, she was left with the option of either calling her GP or visiting another facility in Berkshire.
She told the Advertiser: “My husband Albert is 78, he’s 6ft and pushing him in a wheelchair is a long journey.
“I don’t think they’ve looked into the equality, diversity or inclusion to that service when you’ve got to go as far as Bracknell, Henley or High Wycombe to gain that service.
“If I need to get to any of those places that’s going to cost me a minimum of £50, that’s a lot of money to access the NHS.”
Whyteladyes Lane resident Michelle said her taxi costs will also be increased due to her need for a vehicle with wheelchair access for her husband, who is also known as ‘Fred’ and previously served as the mayor’s officer.
A walk-in centre at Slough’s Upton Hospital has also not reopened since it temporarily shut at the start of the pandemic.
Michelle added: “They’re building all these extra houses, they’re bringing all these extra people in. Where are they going to go?
“St Marks has got an excellent review so why are they closing any of the services?”
A spokesman for the East Berkshire Clinical Commissioning Group said the decision to suspend the walk-in service at St Marks had allowed staff to be redeployed to support same day access in primary care.
A statement said: “The services previously provided at St Marks Urgent Care Centre and Slough Walk-In Centre are now available via GP practices, NHS 111 and the additional Frimley-wide minor injury pathway.
“This ensures all patients continue to access safe and timely care while providing the NHS with the necessary resilience.”
A statement added that the decision was taken in line with a national approach where virtual assessments, by phone or online, are carried out before face-to-face appointments to keep patients and staff safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.
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