Health bosses on South Tyneside have said that a plan that involves closing the NHS Walk-in Centre in Jarrow will lead to more "clinically effective" care.
Under the plans, the Walk-in Centre would close in the autumn and be replaced by a new urgent care hub at South Tynesdie District Hospital.
Dr Matthew Walmsley, a local GP and the Chairman of the South Tyneside Clinical Commissioning Group, said the decision was based on "hard evidence".
Rehena Azam, one of the organisers of today's 'People's March for the NHS', said it the "civic duty" of people to try and protect local NHS services.
"We understand people’s concern, but it’s important to be clear that our plans are based on hard evidence about the most clinically effective ways to provide health care.
"With the walk-in centre and A&E on the same site, patients will be guided to the best service for their needs, which will free up A&E staff to concentrate on genuine emergencies.
"We have been clear from the start that concerns around access to GPs, transport and raising awareness of advice available from places such as local pharmacists must be tackled before the move takes place in the autumn. So, for example, we have already commissioned a detailed independent piece of work to get the clearest possible picture about accessing GPs locally. This will be available shortly and will help us ensure the work we are already undertaking with local practices is on the right track."
A protest rally is being held in Jarrow today to oppose the closure of the town's NHS Walk In Centre.
The South Tyneside Clinical Commissioning Group made the decision to open a new 'urgent care hub' at South Tyneside District Hospital, in South Shields, and relocate services in Jarrow to the new centre.
At the time the Chair of the CCG and South Tyneside GP, Dr Matthew Walmsley, said:
“Many people continue to queue at A&E for minor ailments, rather than using the walk-in-centre service or their GP. By creating a ‘one stop shop’, with every service behind one front door, we can make sure that patients get the right urgent care, first time, every time.”
But the South Tyneside Public Services Alliance, a trade union-led organisation, is against the move.
They believe parking and travel for people in Hebburn and Jarrow is a big concern.
New figures released today show only one NHS Trust in our region was meeting the Government's own target of seeing 95% of A&E patients in four hours over the New Year Period.
Hospitals in Newcastle have even asked for staff from other departments to volunteer to work in A&E.
Meanwhile, doctors have warned this year's flu vaccine might not protect against all strains, after a mutation of the illness. They said this could be contributing to to some of the extra accident and emergency admissions.
You can watch our Health Correspondent Frances Read's report below.
Doctors in the region have warned that this year's flu vaccine might not protect against all strains due to a mutation in the illness.Read the full story ›
A woman from County Durham with leukaemia has told ITV News Tyne Tees that she is too scared to go to A&E because excessive waiting times.Read the full story ›
A Northumberland family have said they are devastated by the NHS's decision on a muscular dystrophy drug.Read the full story ›
These scenes at Wansbeck are mirrored at picket lines across the country as NHS workers take part in a four hour strike. It is in protest of the government's decision not to accept a recommended 1%pay rise for all NHS workers.
Unions have accused the Government of lying over NHS pay as health workers across the country take to the picket lines.
The Government said it had put forward plans to guarantee all staff would get at least 1% this year and next, but they had been rejected by the unions.
Unison leader Dave Prentis said: "It's ludicrous that the Government is keeping up the pretence that all staff are getting a 1% pay rise, and it doesn't matter how often they say it; it's simply not true."
He said the 1% pay rise recommended by the independent NHS Pay Review Body for all NHS workers had been rejected by the Government.
A Department of Health spokesman said: "NHS staff are our greatest asset and we want to make the current pay system fairer - which is why we have put forward proposals that would guarantee all staff would get at least a 1% pay rise this year and next, but these have been rejected by the unions.
"We have taken tough decisions to increase the NHS budget, but we can't afford a consolidated pay rise in addition to increments without risking 10,000 frontline jobs."
"Robust plans" are in place to protect patients during a four-hour strike by thousands of health workers today, NHS England said.
Around 150 police officers will drive or help crew ambulances in London as part of the plans, with paramedics among those walking out in the row over pay.
NHS organisations have tried and tested plans to deal with a range of disruptions including industrial action.
We are working with the NHS to ensure there are robust plans for November 24 that protect the safety, welfare and service provided to patients.
NHS workers will stage a four-hour strike today in a row with the Government over pay.
Midwives, nurses, radiographers, paramedics and psychiatric staff will walk out from 7am in England and 8am in Northern Ireland in protest at the Government's refusal to accept a recommended 1% wage rise for all NHS employees.
Unison leader Dave Prentis said the second strike in a month should "sound alarm bells" in Westminster as the "anger is spreading".
A Department of Health spokesperson said the government "can't afford a consolidated pay rise in addition to increments without risking 10,000 frontline jobs".