A preliminary report conducted by healthcare regulator, Monitor, has revealed that nearly one in four walk-in centres in England closed during the last three years.

As well as flying in the face of public popularity, the closures are set to put additional pressure on other health services, including A&E departments across the country.

The overall demand for NHS services continues to increase, with ‘attendances at major and single speciality A&E departments increasing by around 18 per cent between 2003 and 2011,’ according to the report.

The walk-in centres, established by the Labour government in 1999, were specifically intended to alleviate strain on accident and emergency departments as well as provide greater choice for patients.

The closure of 50 out of 238 walk-in centres will limit choices for patients with limited or no access to GP care, especially vulnerable social groups.

Government enforced cost cutting that will cost money all the way down the line

Linda Millband, a clinical negligence solicitor at Thompsons, said: The closure of any walk-in centre will have an impact on other service provision and closures on this scale could have a potentially huge impact on patients’ access to primary care.

“This is Government enforced cost cutting that will cost money all the way down the line. It is patients who will ultimately have to pay the price if their care is compromised.

“We support Monitor’s stance that patients’ needs should be fully considered before closing any more walk-in centres. The service was intended to ensure people had access to support seven days a week, and closing the centres is only going to result in increased pressure on GP surgeries which will ultimately mean more people visiting A&E.”