HEALTH chiefs have been asked to submit a plan to restore the walk-in centre at Eastham Clinic as a matter of urgency giving hope to campaigners that the service could return before Christmas.

Last week, Wirral South MP Alison McGovern joined campaigners to hand over a petition signed by 1,874 people to the Wirral Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) before its governing body meeting at Old Market House in Birkenhead.

Now, the governing body has written to Wirral Community NHS Foundation Trust asking that, by Friday, November 17, it submits a plan to reinstate the Eastham walk-in service as a matter of urgency.

The sudden closure of Eastham’s walk-in centre (WIC) caused shock in the community more than 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.

The letter, sent on behalf of Simon Banks, chief officer of the CCG, reads: “The decision that was taken to support the system has been controversial and we have to be responsive to the resulting concerns and feedback received from Eastham residents and their elected representatives. The intention remains that this is a temporary measure and there has been a commitment made in public that the service will resume as soon as possible.

“NHS Wirral Clinical Commissioning Group’s (CCG) Governing Body discussed the Eastham Clinic WIC service yesterday at our meeting in public, at which we again received representation from local residents and also Alison McGovern MP. The Governing Body agreed that, just over two months after the suspension of the WIC service, we need to have a plan with Wirral Community NHS Foundation Trust to resume the provision of the Eastham WIC services as a matter of urgency, whilst also maintaining clinical streaming at Arrowe Park.

“NHS Wirral CCG’s Governing Body is clear that the Eastham WIC service must resume as soon as possible. We are now three weeks away from the commencement of the Urgent Care consultation and it is imperative that we move at pace to lift the suspension of Eastham WIC service.”

Campaigners are cautiously hopeful that this could see the walk-in service reinstated before Christmas.

Eastham councillor and leader of the Liberal Democrat Group, Phil Gilchrist said: “After two months of campaigning  there are signs of movement.

“Dave Mitchell, Chris Carubia and myself are optimistic that people’s hopes are going to be fulfilled.”

David Bird, secretary of Eastham Labour Party, added: “Last week I cautiously said that our campaign to re-open the Eastham NHS Walk-In Centre was 'inching forward'. It now seems that inches are being added fast. “The talks between the Wirral CCG, who provide money to run the NHS in Wirral, and the Wirral Community NHS Foundation Trust, who employ staff in the community, are now apparently taking place in an atmosphere of considerable urgency. Both bodies are considering options and have referred to our campaign as instrumental in highlighting the need for a plan for the re-opening to take place soon.

“This is very heartening.

“Dare we dream? Can Christmas come early for the residents of Eastham and beyond?”