HEALTH bosses have announced proposals to move out-of-hours services from a Bolton health centre.

People needing treatment in the evenings and at weekends can currently go to Royal Bolton Hospital or, after calling their GP practice, see a doctor at Waters Meeting Health Centre in Navigation Park, Astley Bridge.

Now, NHS Clinical Commissioning Group’s board wants to move those services out of the centre, so they will only be available at the hospital.

Dr Barry Silvert, the board’s clinical director for commissioning, said at a board meeting yesterday: “There is a directive from NHS England that we have to co-locate out-of-hours services so it’s a case of whether we do this willingly or kicking and screaming — it has to be done.

“To have two services isn’t financially viable and I don’t think we’ve got the workforce to deal with that so the most sensible option for us is to move the service from Waters Meeting into the hospital and to develop a primary care strategy.”

The CCG’s chief officer Su Long said health chiefs must now communicate with the public. She said: “The first thing we have to do is to talk to local people about the potential for such a move and to understand any impact it might have on individuals and what we can do to mitigate those impacts.

“The national message now is — ‘society has shifted, people are going to access primary care at hospitals, we may as well provide them with the service’.”

She added GPS might begin to offer appointments up until 8pm in some cases and that would reduce the need for some people to travel to the hospital out of hours.

“We need to be engaging with the public, explaining we are proposing the move because the best potential option is to move the service,” said Mrs Long.

Mrs Long said it is important people call their GP practice for advice out of hours before turning up at a health facility and to understand that some people can receive home visits by GPs.

The plan is for a six-week public consultation to take place, with further details to follow.

“We would then be bringing a case for change, with options, risk and mitigation to the CCG board,” added Mrs Long.