A popular walk-in centre will still change to appointment-only on November 1, despite concerns from councillors over its process and impact.

Visitors to Alexandra Avenue Health Centre, in Harrow, will now need to book an appointment if they wish to be seen.

Harrow Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) explained that the decision was taken due to the need to improve access to primary care.

But several Harrow councillors were disappointed at a lack of consultation, and they are concerned that those living near the centre will be negatively affected by the change.

“Access to health is what we are talking about,” said Cllr Graham Henson, leader of Harrow Council.

“To us, this is a national health service. It means that if people are ill they can turn up and be seen.

“There are nearly 40,000 walk-in appointments each year [at Alexandra Avenue] and, by removing this service, you are hitting one of the most heavily-deprived areas of the borough.

“And when you talk about a consultation – to us, this is going out, speaking to residents and taking feedback on board. This didn’t happen.”

He was backed up by Cllr Chris Mote, who said the issue was “kicked into the long grass” when it was first brought up at a health and wellbeing board meeting.

The council leader added that he has “serious concerns” about those who live in Harrow but are registered with GPs in neighbouring Ealing and Hillingdon.

Under the new appointment system, only those registered with doctors in Harrow will be able to use the health centre.

Javina Sehgal, managing director of Harrow CCG, confirmed that the changes would go ahead – though she admitted that this is “not what everyone will want to hear”.

She explained that the decision had been taken to improve overall access to primary care for people in the region and suggested that it was not financially motivated.

“This isn’t about money, this is a strategic decision that is in line with the overall direction of travel of NHS England,” she said.

“We have to manage the public’s expectations and have a responsibility to use public money effectively.

“It’s about ensuring timely access to a known GP and the continuity of care – particularly for those with long-term illness.”

Ms Seghal apologised, on behalf of her colleagues, for any lack of consultation with the council.

She said the CCG would “properly engage” with the community if similar decisions were undertaken at the other walk-in centres in Harrow – the Pinn Medical Centre and Belmont Health Centre.

While there are “no current plans” to make these changes, Ms Seghal said she could not say whether they would be rolled out in the future.