Despite NHS Derbyshire only advertising the public meeting via their website, more than 100 people attended on Tuesday! The local media were great, and their coverage helped spread the message to let people know about the meeting (thank you Derby Evening Telegraph and Nottingham Evening Post).
The meeting itself can only be described as 'shambolic'. They tried a different format this time - so no introductions, no overview presented - just go and sit at one of three tables, each covering a different subject - why the centre is closing, alternative provision, the future.
Phillip was one of the hundred people to attend:
"Craftily stage managed, not a proper public meeting as such, more of a divide and conquer situation! Public had to wait outside the meeting room until 1.30. Inside were three large tables surrounded by a limited number of chairs, half of which had Doctors and other representatives sitting on them, so only a few members of the public had access at any one time.
"The public liked the Walk In Centre and used it often. The officials claimed that not enough people used the Centre, the public disagreed and claimed that often it was often too booked up and many people were being turned away. Those ringing up when the centre opened at 8 A.M. found that it was fully booked until at least midday. 94 people were turned away over the Christmas period.
"The company claimed that it couldn't afford to run with too few patients and was forced to close. The Funding apparently was non-recurrent and allegedly they get to keep that money and not give it back. The public thought this was a scam and that money was going into the owners (or somebody's) pockets.
"The last table was about new periods of consultation, modernisation of existing facilities, larger premises (Why, if too few people were using it would they need larger premises?) and so on.
"The public wanted to know why all this had been hushed up and kept from them and the Media until was too late? The public claim that the statistics have been rigged and the money gone to greedy directors.
"Winter Pressure Funds or similar may be available in the future. (Winter only?)Local G.P. clinics said that they could extend their services if the funding given to the existing Company became available, which it isn't."
The only good thing to come out of the meeting was the fantastic media coverage we achieved - articles were featured in Derby Evening Telegraph, Nottingham Evening Post, Ilkeston Advertiser and was one of the main stories throughout the following day on BBC Radio Derby - including a live interview with patient Jenny Watts - who gave a brilliant insight into what makes this service so special (Well done, Jenny!).
And now? The fight continues - we will continue to make as much noise, until we get proper answers to our questions, and a review of the decision is made. We will not lie down and let them take OUR service away from us.