THE re-opening of the walk-in facility at Eastham Health Centre was marked with fireworks, cake and a celebration of “People Power”.
The Friends of Eastham Walk-in Centre were outside the centre for the re-opening of the walk-in centre on Tuesday and speeches were made by Eastham Labour Party spokesperson Jo Bird, David Bird, Eastham councillor Dave Mitchell and Wirral South MP Alison McGovern.
Campaigners celebrating outside the clinic
Fireworks were launched and campaigners and members of the public tucked into a cake iced with the front page of The Standard newspaper celebrating the “People Power” that saw the facility re-open after its shock closure in September last year.
News that the facility was open again had spread and there were lots of people there to make use of it.
David Bird, speaking on behalf of Friends of Eastham Walk-in Centre, said: “We are celebrating the re-opening, even if only partially, of this Walk-In Centre which is so valued by the residents of Eastham, Bromborough, Ellesmere Port, Bebington, Heswall and beyond. It is so valued because it is local and is staffed by super nurses, empathetic, knowledgeable, kindly and expert.
“We value our NHS and its entire staff and we have all been grateful to them at some time in our lives. But it is important to have a first port of call, a way in to the NHS, when we need advice and reassurance.
“Who are we celebrating? Firstly I must say that councillors played their part and played it to their strengths.
“In my view it was the residents that 'won the fight'. Residents in every corner, nook and cranny of this locality where people gathered for work or recreation, those living alone, those with infirmities, those with family responsibilities.
“It has rightly been described as 'People Power'. People turned out in their thousands to sign the petition and furthermore told their stories of how why and when they were so grateful that this facility existed. They were not going to let it go.
“More, that power was well led, properly focused, directed towards those who had the authority to change things around.
“Now we can celebrate the success so far and contemplate what further needs to be done to make this Eastham Clinic a model of how the NHS management can listen to and respond to popular demands.”
The Walk In Service is now be open for four hours each day, seven days a week: 1pm-5pm Monday to Friday and 12pm to 4pm Saturday and Sunday.
The interim re-opening until May was announced by NHS Wirral CCG and Wirral Community NHS Foundation Trust in November.
The sudden closure caused shock in the community in September and protesters, many of who united as the Friends of Eastham NHS Walk-in Centre, leapt into action to put pressure on health chiefs.
In the wake of the closure, Alison McGovern MP joined campaigners to hand over a petition signed by 1,874 people to the Wirral Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) before its governing body met at Old Market House in Birkenhead.
Alison McGovern with campaigners at Old Market House, Birkenhead
Mr Bird added that, while NHS Wirral CCG and Wirral Community NHS Foundation Trust work to find a long-term solution, the campaign was not over.
He said: “We shall build on this success, a success based upon determination and on a robust belief in victory. The future must include a greatly different relationship between the NHS authorities and the public they serve. The Friends are not going away. Their resolve is strong and we trust and hope that, together with you and the authorities, we can truly call the NHS 'ours'.”