A “TSUNAMI” of support to restore Eastham’s walk-in health centre has been unleashed after its sudden closure sparked outrage in the region.
Last week, the walk-in facility at the Eastham Clinic on Eastham Rake was closed by the NHS Wirral Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and staff were moved to cover Arrowe Park Hospital’s A&E department.
Community leaders described the move as a “bombshell” that could put elderly people at risk and increase pressure on the Countess of Chester’s waiting times.
A petition is being distributed throughout the region and Wirral South MP Alison McGovern is campaigning to restore the service.
She said: “Since finding out about the closure of Eastham Walk-in Centre I have been campaigning for it to remain in Eastham. Staff there have now been relocated to Arrowe Park and we have now lost a vital service in my constituency.
“It was clear from the level of support from the public that the campaign has received that there is a strong feeling about how needed this service was.
“I invited Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary Jon Ashworth to Eastham to speak with members of the public who are upset about the closure and he spoke about how NHS services are suffering under the this Tory government.
“The Eastham Walk-in Centre was a service valued by many local people and it has closed because of the Tories failure to fund the NHS properly.
“Many people attended the meeting and it was clear they wanted to send Wirral’s Clinical Commissioning Group a message that Eastham Walk in Centre is needed by the community.
“While the decision was taken by the CCG, I believe this closure is an indictment this government’s failure to protect our national health service.”
At the meeting, David Bird, secretary of the Eastham branch of the Labour Party, addressed the Wirral Clinical Commissioning Group.
Mr Bird said: “I do my politics by talking on the street, in the shops, on the doorstep. I’ve never known – and I’m 75 – such universal condemnation.
“Our petitioners were outside the Eastham Clinic on the first day of the closure and collected hundreds of signatures from passers-by. Easy.
“My estimate is 94 per cent of those going to the centre or passing-by, signed; only four per cent declined.
“You’ve unleashed a response that neither you nor I know how will develop, but I can tell you that a groundswell is building.
“People not only signed the partition, they, uninvited, wanted to take whole petition forms away, to fill them at their slimming class, their line dances, to school gates, to their churches. I don’t exaggerate.
“This groundswell has its own momentum; it could become a flood or tsunami and you’re going to get wet.”
In a letter to Eastham councillors informing them of the closure, the CCG said it “is committed to ensuring the clinic remains an essential part of the local community”.
It added: “Urgent and emergency care in the NHS is a national priority and in March NHS England signalled a national commitment to introduce front door streaming services
“In all accident and emergency departments to help deal with increasing demand and the pressure this creates on clinical services.
“A new ‘front door clinical streaming’ service will be in place at the Emergency Department at Arrowe Park Hospital from September 4, 2017.
“In order to make this happen we have decided to increase the number of clinical staff working at the Arrowe Park Walk-in Centre by requesting that Wirral Community NHS Foundation Trust reallocate staff from the current Walk-in Centre at the Eastham Clinic.
“This means the Walk-in Centre service at the Eastham Clinic will no longer be available.
“Walk-in Centre services will continue to be provided at Victoria Central Health Centre and the Walk-in Centre on the Arrowe Park Hospital site.
“Eastham Clinic will continue to provide a wide range of other clinical services including blood testing and the dressings clinic.”
See full story in the Chester Leader