MP and campaigners hand over petition calling for Eastham's walk-in centre to be re-opened two months after its shock closure

Reporter:

Matt Warner

A PETITION calling for the Eastham walk-in centre to be re-opened two months after its shock closure has been presented to health chiefs.

Wirral South MP Alison McGovern handed over the a petition of 1,874 signatures to the Wirral Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) at its governing body meeting at Old Market House in Birkenhead today.

The petition calls on the CCG to re-open the walk-in centre facility at Eastham Clinic on Eastham Rake.

The Labour MP joined campaigners in Birkenhead, including David and Rica Bird, who have been actively calling for the re-opening of the service, at the meeting where Alison addressed the governing board.

She said: “I was pleased to get the opportunity to say a few words and deliver this weighty petition of signatures on behalf of local residents which calls on the Wirral CCG to re-open the Eastham Walk in Centre. Having listened to people since the closure was announced I know this is a vital community health service and that people are concerned and upset about it being closed.

“Campaigners have worked very hard to protest against the closure and highlight the issue locally and I thank them for this. I invited Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary Jon Ashworth to meet with people who have been troubled by the closure. We know the closure has been described as temporary but until we get a re-opening date we will continue to demonstrate how much this service is missed and how important it is.

“I reiterated how valued this service is to the community this afternoon to the governing board. The CCG listened carefully.”

Although no date for the centre to open was given, campaigners left feeling that there was light at the end of the tunnel.

Secretary of Eastham Labour Party and one of the lead campaigners, David Bird said: "Though we were not given a re-opening date today, I was heartened to hear that work is being done within the CCG to draw up a plan for the centre to be re-opened ahead of the consultation on Wirral's Urgent Care Review.

”It seems that our campaign is inching forward and therefore my expectation is that we will hear something more before the next CCG Board meeting on December 5. Unlike other occasions when I have addressed them, the mood-music was different this time. Both Alison and I think that they have been listening carefully.”

The sudden closure of Eastham’s walk-in health centre caused shock in the community two months ago.

The facility was closed to allow staff to be transferred to the A&E department at Arrowe Park Hospital in a effort to reduce waiting times.

After the outrage at the closure, which Alison McGovern branded “brutal”, Wirral Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) chief officer Simon Banks told a meeting called by Wirral Council’s Labour group that the move was only “temporary”.

Since then, calls have been made for Wirral CCG to work with the community to restore the service and a Friends of Eastham NHS Walk-In Centre group was launched to unite efforts.

Eastham councillor and leader of the Liberal Democrat Group, Phil Gilchrist is to raise the issue at the Wirral Health and Wellbeing Board meeting on November 16.

Cllr Gilchrist said: “Local people are having to work round the fall out from this decision, seeking advice and assistance wherever they can secure it. This is placing additional demand on local surgeries.

“Local pharmacists are, fortunately, on hand to offer advice.

“The local health chiefs promised that there would be reviews of the impact. We need to know what these show.

“As local councillors we are taking every opportunity to raise the issue with the local health bosses.”

The closure of the walk-in centre has not affected the other services at Eastham Clinic, such as blood tests and dressings.

Email:

matt.warner@nwn.co.uk

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