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Review into NHS walk-in centres launched

An official review to find out why NHS walk-in-centres are closing, and if this is in the best interests of patients has been launched. 

Health regulator Monitor will examine whether the closure of walk-in centres has limited people's ability to choose where and when they access routine or urgent primary health care services without an appointment.

As part of its review, Monitor wants to hear from patients, past and current providers of walk-in centres, GPs, commissioners and other stakeholders about the impact of walk-in centre closures.

Catherine Davies, Monitor executive director of cooperation and competition said: "It is in the interests of patients to find out why walk-in centres are closing and whether the closures are affecting patient choice and competition.

"Walk-in centres are very popular with patients and the potential impact of such closures at a local and national level needs to be better understood."

The organisation emphasised that the review is not under Monitor's formal enforcement powers, it is a review to improve its understanding of why walk-in centres are closing and the potential impact on patient choice and competition.

There are 369 urgent care services currently registered with the Care Quality Commission (CQC), which includes NHS walk-in centres and a range of other primary care services. 

Responsibility for commissioning walk-in centres was originally in the hands of primary care trusts (PCTs). 

But CCGs must now decide whether to re-commission services for non-registered patients, such as urgent care and out of hours services.