Ellesmere Port & Neston MP, Justin Madders has condemned a proposal by Wirral Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) to close walk-in centres, just months after the Eastham facility reopened following a public outcry.
A fifth of patients using the popular facility in Eastham are from the Cheshire side of the border and would face a much longer journey to the Countess of Chester or Arrowe Park if they wish to access walk-in facilities in future.
The CCG is proposing to close walk-ins at Eastham Clinic, Victoria Central Wallasey, Miriam Medical Centre in Birkenhead, Parkfield Medical Centre in New Ferry and Moreton Health Clinic. The only walk-in facility on the Wirral will be at a new Urgent Treatment Centre at the Arrowe Park site, which NHS England is requiring the CCG to open by December 2019.
A consultation has been launched by the CCG, but keeping the walk-in centres open is not one of the options being looked at, despite being extremely well regarded by the public with 93.6% of patients saying that they would recommend them to their family and friends.
Madders, also a Shadow Health Minister has branded the consultation as “fundamentally flawed” and argues that the closures will lead to huge problems at local A&E departments.
According to the CCG’s own figures, 46.3% of those who attended WICs or Minor Injuries Units did so because they were unable to get a GP appointment. The CCG has also stated that, “a recurring theme across multiple Wirral surveys and reviews was patients reporting attending A&E because they could not get an urgent GP appointment.”
In 2016/17, this equates to 38,415 attendances at walk-in centres, which could potentially have presented at A&E instead.
Commenting, Justin Madders MP said:
“It is clear that this decision is only being taken because of the impact of the eight years of underfunding under this Conservative government.
“Buried in the small print of the report is a claim that the existing provision will not be affordable once the new Urgent Care Centre opens, so rather than being about what is best for patients, this decision is actually about resources.
“But whilst I appreciate the pressures that the NHS is facing everywhere, Wirral CCG have got this badly wrong and they need to urgently reconsider again. Closing these centres could have a huge impact on local A&E services, which as we know have already been struggling in the face of record levels of demand.
“If pressure on A&Es is increased as appears likely, then closing the walk-in centres could end up costing far more than it saves. The CCG need to scrap this plan and make the case to Government for adequate funding.”