Frank Field demands answers from Wirral CCG over plans to axe walk-in centres

Wirral Globe - 18 Oct 2018

A MERSEYSIDE MP is demanding answers from the local clinical commissioning group over plans to transform health services in the borough – which involves shutting walk-in and minor injuries centres.

Frank Field MP has penned a letter containing a list of questions over Wirral CCG’s current urgent care consultation, which could mean axing the centres, making more GP appointments available, and creating a new ‘urgent treatment centre’ (UTC) at Arrowe Park Hospital.

In his letter, he tells Simon Banks, chief officer of the CCG, two of his biggest concerns are the prospect of people having to travel “lengthy distances” to Arrowe Park with little or no public transport, and doubts over the hospital’s capacity to treat so many patients.

He also said his constituents did not want the five walk-in centres to go, and that the facilities should instead be “developed and extended”.

The Birkenhead MP’s list of questions below demands answers over issues such as how the changes will improve services, and whether the move will place extra pressure on the borough’s ambulance service.

It comes after Paula Cowan, medical director of the CCG, last month told the Local Democracy Service the proposals will mean a better local health system.

She said the ongoing urgent care consultation is a way of pursuing a system “that is better for delivery of care”, and wanted to ease the fears raised following its launch last month.

She also stressed that if the consultation proposals go ahead and walk-in facilities at Eastham Clinic, Victoria Central Wallasey, Miriam Medical Centre in Birkenhead, Parkfield Medical Centre in New Ferry and Moreton Health Clinic do go, all other clinical services provided at these locations, including blood tests, would not be affected.

But Mr Field has raised a number of concerns, and in a letter to Mr Banks, he asked:

1. Why will the four health and wellbeing centres (proposed as part of the consultation) not offer the same benefits as the UTC at Arrowe Park?

2. How would the proposed changes specifically enhance local health services?

3. What thought has been given to the needs of the particularly vulnerable who struggle to get to Arrowe Park, as well as the potential parking problems there? Would these changes not mean taking urgent care services away from where patients lives without knowing if they’re capable of getting to the UTC?

4. What additional pressures are the changes likely to exert on Wirral’s ambulance services?

5. What would be the distributional impact of the proposed changes on the proportion of Wirral’s health resources being allocated to the four constituencies?

6. Has an impact assessment been done specifically around what the changes will mean for health inequalities and life expectancy among different socio-economic groups?

7. What is the maximum distance that patients will be asked to travel to ensure they can see a GP within a particular period of time?

8. What are the overall activity analyses and financial consequences of the proposed changes?

9. Please detail the current financial investment and activity in each of the minor injury units and walk-in centres, and for minor problems at Arrowe Park’s A&E department.

A spokeswoman for the CCG said: “We welcome Mr Field’s questions in response to our consultation, and we are meeting, or have met with, all Wirral MPs to discuss our proposals in more detail.

“We are being responsive to enquiries from all stakeholders, and are committed to complete transparency. We will be responding to Mr Field’s questions in due course as is our usual process.

“People can find our full consultation documents, Frequently Asked Questions, our case for change, our equality impact assessments and a survey on our website. We urge people to read our full proposals and fill in our survey to share their views.”

For full details, and to have your say on the proposals, visit:

Tom Houghton, Wirral Globe