Councillors say decision to close walk-in service in south Wirral is “disgraceful”
LORNA HUGHES 16:45, 30 AUG 2017
Many elderly people will find it “nearly impossible” to seek urgent medical help when Eastham’s walk-in centre closes, health bosses were warned.
Staff at the service, based in Eastham Clinic, are being moved to Arrowe Park hospital from September 4 to support its struggling A&E department.
Councillors in the area said the move was “disgraceful” and it would mean a five-hour round trip on two buses for many.
Lib Dem Cllr Chris Carubia said Eastham was being treated as the “poor relation of Wirral”, while Cllr Dave Mitchell called for Wirral Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) to re-think its decision.
Cllr Carubia said: “Considering that Merseytravel is now closing bus routes in Wirral south and Eastham, making getting to Arrowe Park nigh on impossible for some here, I question the statement that it will give a safer and better service.
“This makes a bit of a mockery of the tweets and social media statements put out from Arrowe Park to keep away from A&E and go to a walk-in centre as they cannot cope with demand.
“Once again we are being treated as the poor relation of Wirral and I am very concerned that some of our residents will not seek the medical treatment they need due to their inability to travel on the two buses every two hours to get to Arrowe Park when they cannot get a GP appointment.”
NHS standards say 95% of patients arriving at an A&E must be seen, treated, and either discharged or admitted to hospital within four hours.
But Wirral Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) says this has been a “consistent challenge” at Arrowe Park and there has been no sustained improvement.
Eastham Clinic will continue to provide services including blood testing and dressings.
Cllr Mitchell said: “The walk-in centre is something that we fought for for over 20 years and we’ve now had it for five years. But it has always been the first to close when there were staff shortages.
“We are right on the border with Cheshire West and Chester – you can’t get further away than we are! – and people will come from Ellesmere Port and even further to use the walk-in service.
“We have got an ageing population and elderly people are more likely to rely on public transport. But it’s two buses, so a five-hour round trip.
“You can easily get a taxi from Eastham to Arrowe Park – if you’re willing to pay £17 each way.
“It is absolutely disgraceful.”
In a statement, Dr Paula Cowan, Medical Director of Wirral Clinical Commissioning Group and an Eastham GP, said: “It’s really important that the CCG looks at what resources it has available to ensure that we can meet the needs of people in Wirral.
“We have been experiencing increased demand for emergency services at Arrowe Park Hospital and increasing the staff at the Arrowe Park Walk in Centre will help manage the ongoing pressure on clinical services.
“We recognise that this decision will have an impact on the local community in Eastham.
“However, we feel that this decision ensures that we are putting our most appropriately qualified clinical staff in the place where they can help keep our local health services safe and effective.”
Walk-in services will continue to be provided at Victoria Central Health Centre in Wallasey and the Walk in Centre on the Arrowe Park Hospital site.