In the previous decade, the NHS opened more than 230 walk-in centres across England. The aim was to improve patients’ access to primary/urgent care and to help modernise the NHS and offer patients more choice. Across England many walk-in centres had contracts that were up for renewal in 2014 or 2015. The East Anglia Area team commissioned M·E·L Research to undertake a patient consultation at three of their walk-in centres, to help inform their future commissioning intentions.
900 face-to-face exit interviews were conducted at three walk-in centres across East Anglia (Great Yarmouth, St. Neots, and Norwich) in April 2014. The samples were representative of the number of patients at each centre. The interviewers also visited the centres on different days and at various times over 2 to 3 weeks to ensure coverage of a broad cross section of patient groups.
The questionnaire designed by M·E·L Research set out to understand patients’ reasons for choosing to attend the walk-in centre, experience of the service, and their views on accessing alternative services should the centre be unavailable.
The results were used to inform the review process around the future provision of urgent care services delivered from walk-in centres. The results were interpreted to see if the centres were working as they were intended (e.g. to give patients more choice in regards to urgent care). We also looked at other outcomes such as if the walk-in centre was helping to relieve the burden on A&E.