A Bracknell politician has continued his crusade over an alleged ‘downgrade’ of services at Brants Bridge Urgent Care Centre.

Brants Bridge was reopened as a walk in centre on Monday, July 19, having been partly closed during the pandemic.

Yet doubts remain over what level of care is now provided at Brants Bridge, which is also known as the Bracknell Healthspace.

Councillor Tony Virgo (Conservative, Winkfield & Cranbourne) attempted to get answers over the centre’s alleged downgrading from Fiona Slevin-Brown, Bracknell Forest’s executive lead for urgent and emergency care from the NHS Frimley Clinical Commissioning Group.

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He began by praising the hard work NHS staff have done and the “world class” vaccine rollout, before questioning why the level of service had been downgraded in his view.

His argument was that Brants Bridge does not qualify as an urgent care because it is staffed by senior nurses, rather than a medic.

Cllr Virgo said: “It has been downgraded. It’s being run by senior nurses, and not a medic. I want to know why that decision was taken by the CCG. It was not minor injuries. It was staffed with a medic.”

He added: “Why did we downgrade it, and if we did downgrade it, what was the thinking behind that, if it wasn’t just finance. We weren’t told that really, we weren’t consulted, it just happened.”

Brants Bridge was closed for walk-in patients from March 2020 to July of this year.

Cllr Virgo added that Bracknell is a town of 120,000 people but does not have a dedicated hospital, and that, while he understood GP surgeries are under pressure, the services at Brants Bridge are meant to alleviate that.

He said: “The urgent care centre was there to take that slack so that people don’t drive actually to A&E in Frimley and Wexham Park to save that amount of facility. Therefore I can’t quite see why we’ve gone down this path.”

He also said that signs directing patients to the multiple services provided at Brants Bridge were “a mess.”

Bracknell News: Bracknell Urgent Care Centre at Brants Bridge.Bracknell Urgent Care Centre at Brants Bridge.

In answer to his questions, Fiona Slevin-Brown said: “The workforce that are there are the workforce that were there pre-covid, so we haven’t changed it, we haven’t decommissioned anything or taken anything… it’s the same workforce who are working to the same service model. I just wanted to correct you on that.”

She argued that Brants Bridge would not have alleviated pressure on GP surgeries as Cllr Virgo suggested.

Fiona Slevin-Brown said: “People with minor injuries would never have gone to a GP practice, they’ll always be seen in Brants Bridge or in an emergency department. In terms of overflow in primary care, that’s not what the minor injuries service would have ever offered to our GP practices.”

She went on to say that services at Brants Bridge have increased as it now treats people with minor illnesses, examples of which include sore throats, earaches, coughs, chest infections, constipation, and insect stings.


In a presentation earlier in the meeting, she gave statistics on the number of appointments that can be facilitated at Brants Bridge. It can currently receive a total of 3,650 appointments per month. Of these, 1,920 minor injury appointments can be facilitated, and 1,730 minor illness appointments can be handled at the centre.

On the issue of signage, Fiona Slevin-Brown said: “I absolutely take your point on that, I’ve been there myself, it is quite confusing. One of the challenges is its a building with multiple different occupants, of which the urgent care centre is only one small part.”

Another one of the occupants at Brants Bridge is the Royal Berkshire NHS Trust which owns the building.

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But there remained confusion over whether there was a medic on site or not. Fiona Slevin-Brown said that she will investigate whether there is a medic on site during opening hours at Brants Bridge and get back to the committee with her answer.

She was questioned during a meeting of Bracknell Forest Council’s Overview and Scrutiny Commission yesterday (Tuesday, August 3).

You can view Tweets from the meeting in this thread: 

Currently, patients are being encouraged to call NHS 111 before visiting Brants Bridge.

During the meeting, Cllr Mary Temperton (Labour, Great Hollands North) said that there was a lack of outdoor shelters for people waiting for GP appointments. To that, Fiona Slevin-Brown said she “totally supported” the point Cllr Temperton was raising and that she would relay that to GP practices in Bracknell Forest.