NHS walk-in centres near railway stations are not popular with commuters and are a waste of money, say University of Sheffield researchers.
…a study has found they are seeing as few as 30 patients a day and cost twice as much as other GP surgeries.
While they are paid for by the NHS, they are actually run by private health firms.
The Department of Health-funded evaluation found that the clinics were seeing between 33 and 101 patients a day, despite having capacity for 150 to 180 patients.
Four of the centres were in a poor location away from the beaten track, the study – reported in the British Journal of General Practice – concluded.
It was estimated that the price per attendance at the clinics was £33 compared with an estimated £13 for walk-in centres provided by the NHS.
At some centres, the cost per patient was as high as £62.
Study leader Dr Alicia O’Cathain said the results showed that walk-in centres should be provided by the NHS, rather than private companies.
And she added that they needed to be placed near where people work, rather than at train stations. “One of the problems was location, so one for example was near the train station but wasn’t on the commuter track and there were very few people who went through that way. At the start and end of the day people are in a rush, but the way that people use walk-in centres is to go in their lunchtime.”