Colchester health centre moves closer

THE future of Colchester's new walk-in centre has become clearer after contracts were signed for the project.

THE future of Colchester's new walk-in centre has become clearer after contracts were signed for the project.

NHS North East Essex has selected healthcare firm Harmoni to run services at the new GP-led appointment and walk-in service that will operate 365 days a year.

The new centre is due to open at the Colchester Primary Care Centre in Turner Road in June and will incorporate the existing Colchester NHS Walk-in centre and GP out-of-hours service, currently located at Middleborough.

Professor Sheila Salmon, chairman of NHS North East Essex, said the agreement with Harmoni, which already provides out-of-hours GP services in north Essex, followed on from an “extensive bidding process”.

She said: “We were pleased with the way Harmoni was able to demonstrate how it would work with other agencies, such as the hospital and social services to ensure that the patient experience was appropriate and timely.”

Under new Department of Health guidelines, the centre must provide a range of core services, including access to GP services, walk-in-services and pre-bookable appointments to both registered patients, patients registered elsewhere and unregistered patients.

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It will offer a minor injuries service, flu immunisation in the winter and contraception services, as well as a blood drawing service from 7am to 2pm, Monday to Friday.

Prof Salmon said the wider range of services and the easier access to parking at the site, which will be closer to Colchester General Hospital, would be a welcome step forward in providing improved levels of healthcare for the area.

She said: “It should be stressed that this new GP-led health centre is an additional local facility and is in no way intended to replace any existing GP practices.

“We have an expanding population and this new service will help ensure we continue to provide the best possible health services to the people of North East Essex.”

Eddie Jahn, managing director of the firm, said it was “very gratifying” to have been chosen for the project.

He said: “We very much look forward to extending the excellent working relationship we have with NHS North East Essex, having provided the out-of-hours service in the area since October 2007.”