PATIENTS using the town's walk-in centre will not be left “high and dry” after it closes – but there are fears the reshuffle of health services could cause “pain and distress”.

On April 1, some of the walk-in centre’s staff and services will be moved into the renamed urgent care centre at Great Western Hospital. This will treat A&E department visitors with less serious health issues to alleviate pressure.

But its former home at the Swindon NHS Health Centre on Islington Street will still offer blood tests on weekday mornings, a needle exchange, a pharmacy, an emergency dentist, a sexual health clinic, and GPs for the Carfax Medical Centre and Whalebridge Practice.

People with no fixed abode can register at these GPs and 10 others in Swindon. A wound care clinic in the building is being worked on and may be open before April.

Coun Marina Strinkovsky argued this attempt to simplify Swindon’s healthcare is actually making things more difficult for patients.

She said: “Splitting up services that people are familiar with and moving some of them to the other end of town is going to cause confusion, pain and distress for people while everything settles down.”

Director of nursing and quality for the B&NES, Swindon and Wiltshire CCGs Gill May said: “You’re absolutely right and you are right to voice that. It’s not a comfortable decision but what we are hearing from other places who have done this is that the impact was minimal.

“The CCG fully acknowledges the level of concern expressed by members of the public but we are not leaving them high and dry. Most people using the walk-in centre are registered with Carfax and Whalebridge GPs in the same building. GPs will be encouraged to offer patients a chance to book an appointment first instead of automatically directing them to the walk-in centre.”

Labour's Sarah Church asked: “People are waiting a long time for appointments and there is a lot of pressure on primary care. Can patients be confident that they can go to their GP for issues they can’t plan for?”

Ms May added: “In Swindon, we are hearing a lot about people struggling to get an appointment but we are starting to see changes for the better and we are trying to get the practices to work together in a network to share services.

“The walk-in centre change has been ready to go for two years but was slowed down by IMH happening. We are in a very different place with primary care than we were six months ago, we have invested in staff and more money is promised. We owe it to the public and staff to make this change and have something in our back pocket to support and mitigate it rather than keep putting it off.

"The NHS has a finite amount of money and massive investments are needed but this was never and is not about saving money, we are not saving any money.”