A NEW service which has offered more convenient GP bookings has led to a reduction in walk-in appointments, according to a borough health chief.

The number of appointments made at St Helens Urgent Treatment Centre (UTC) at the Millennium Centre has reduced by five per cent in the last two years.

Figures show there were 61,815 appointments made at the centre between May 2, 2016 and May 1, 2017.

The following year this number dropped to 60,010.

And from May 2, 2018 to May 1, 2019 there were 57,024 appointments.

The statistics were released after the Star submitted a Freedom of Information request to Bridgewater Community Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, which operates the centre.

St Helens Urgent Treatment Centre manager Lynne Swift said: "St Helens Urgent Treatment Centre - previously known as the Walk-in Centre - is one of the NHS services available to those people with non-life threatening illness and injury and who do not require treatment at hospital A and E.

"As part of a national initiative to reduce A and E attendances a new service was introduced in St Helens in 2018 to offer more convenient GP appointments, on weekday evenings and at weekends.

"The impact of this service has contributed to the small reduction in people attending at the UTC site.

"To ensure that we are supporting our local health system we are working with North West Ambulance Service to increase the number of patients they bring to us for treatment.

"Although bringing more seriously unwell patients to the centre impacts on the complexity of the treatment we provide, we are pleased to report that our latest waiting time figures show that 95 per cent of patients waited less than 182 minutes for treatment - which is well below the national target time of four hours.

"And our feedback systems tell us that 95 per cent of patients are happy with the service they received and would recommend it to family and friends."