Protest over proposed walk-ins closures

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Members of the public walked eight miles, from Eastham to Arrowe Park, in a bid to save local walk-in centres. Pic © Annie Williams JMU Journalism

Dozens of Wirral residents marched from Eastham Clinic to Arrowe Park Hospital to highlight the distance many will have to travel if the proposed removal of walk-in services goes ahead.

Wirral Clinical Commissioning Group is proposing to close many local centres and minor injury units across the peninsula, including clinics in Moreton, New Ferry, Eastham, Wallasey and Birkenhead.

The new scheme aims to expand the walk-in centre at Arrowe Park Hospital.

Sunday’s protest was designed to put the difficulties some will face into the spotlight, and Adam McNamara told JMU Journalism: “About 50 people started the walk in Eastham and about half of them finished. Eight miles is a long way to go on foot, on public transport or in a taxi, especially with kids or with a disability.

“On a lot of days, I’d struggle to do it. Local walk-in centres provide a vital service,” the 35-year-old from Eastham added.

YouTube: Councillor Jo Bird

Alan Grice, co-chairman of the Patient Participation Group, told JMU Journalism: “Thousands of people use the minor injuries and illness services across Wirral and I don’t think patients getting up to Arrowe Park is going to ease any pressure on A&E there.

“A lot of patients would find it difficult to travel to Arrowe Park. The hospital doesn’t have great transport links and it is already a nightmare to park there, as well as people having to pay to travel and park, which many of our patients can’t afford.”

Amy Russell and family started the walk but didn’t get very far with her two young children. Pic © Annie Williams JMU Journalism

But Wirral CCG state that by closing the centres they can improve local urgent care systems for patients. Chair of the North West CCG, Dr Sue Wells, told JMU Journalism: “This will help us take pressure off our only A&E department, so it can help those with the greatest need.”

Patients across Wirral have expressed their concerns at the proposed loss of the local walk-in services.

Grace Jones, 22, relies heavily on the use of walk-in centres for her bladder condition. She told JMU Journalism: “I rely the walk-in centres because the wait is shorter and I can’t physically wait in A&E for three-to-four hours when I’m in that much pain.”

The Tranmere resident uses local walk-in services at least once a month. Miss Jones said: “The walk-ins mean I’m generally seen to within an hour if I get sick on a weekend, and losing them would be devastating not only to my physical health, but also my mental health.”

A petition with more than 3,800 signatures was presented at the full Wirral Council meeting last week and the councillors unanimously approved a motion to oppose the closures proposed by Wirral CCG.

Consultation is set to end in December.