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10 August 2010, 06:00
Thousands more than expected have used a walk-in health centre in Reading.
Since it opened in August last year, the centre in Reading's Broad Street Mall has seen over 31,000 patients, which is in excess of the 24,000 originally forecast for its first 12 months.
You don't have to make appointments to see a doctor, and over 40% of the patients that have registered with the Walk-in Health Centre have not previously been registered with a GP.
The high demand has also lead to twice as many staff being employed at the centre.
Doctor David Buckle, West Berkshire Primary Care Trust's Medical Director. He says even though the centre has exceeded expectations, it isn't going to replace more traditional GP services:
"I think the Walk-in health centre has a fantastic future, but I don't think it's how everybody wants to access their GP.
"We have 56 practices in West Berkshire, 55 of those are normal practices, and I think they have a really important role.
"You wouldn't really want a Walk-in centre in the middle of rural Swallowfield would you? It's a town centre idea. But in towns such as Reading I think it's here to stay."
In Oxfordshire there is a similar centre in Banbury, but a spokesperson for the NHS has told Heart there are no plans to introduce a Walk-in centre in Oxford.
Patients in North Hampshire have access to the Basingstoke Walk-in centre.