Health bosses in Sunderland have approved plans to replace walk-in centres in Washington, Houghton and Bunny Hill with a centralised service in Pallion.
The public protested against the proposed closure of these urgent care centres and more than 14,000 people signed a petition to keep them open.
NHS Sunderland Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) decided to pass the changes on Tuesday January 29 after a 16-week consultation period.
Dr Ian Pattison, chair for NHS Sunderland CCG said: “We have been very clear from the start that the current services cannot continue the way they are.
“Our role in the NHS is to ensure that we are providing the best possible healthcare with the resources that we have.
“In making our decision we have taken into consideration the feedback from members of the public. We have made several changes to our clinical model as a direct result by providing more access to minor injuries services in Washington and Coalfields areas.
“We will be using the primary care centre buildings in Sunderland for the Sunderland Extended Access service, which replaces the walk-in services that are currently there.”
From April 2019, patients will only need to call their own GP practice or 111 to access urgent healthcare.
Services that will be available include:
- An integrated urgent care service (111) which has been available from October 2018.
- A Recovery at Home service which supports vulnerable patients with complex needs to remain at home. This team includes a GP and responds quickly to provide intensive support.
- There will be 45,000 GP appointments per year (including an additional 14,000 from April 2019) through the Sunderland Extended Access Service.
Alex Scullion, a councillor for the Houghton ward of Sunderland City Council, said: “Along with my Labour councillor colleagues, I supported the campaign against the proposal.
“Any loss of service will have an adverse effect on the community that it serves. Particularly, perhaps, those that will struggle to make the longer journeys that it will entail.
“I feel some sympathy where decisions are forced to be made due to reduction in funding resulting in reduced resource but this doesn’t make it any less painful for service users.”