5 walk in centres in Moreton, New Ferry, Eastham, Birkenhead, Wallasey and Arrowe Park – which 2 are proposed for closure and what did councillors say about it before a final decision on 9th July 2019?
On Monday evening the Joint Health Scrutiny Committee met at Wallasey Town Hall. Cllrs Yvonne Nolan, Christina Muspratt and Mary Jordan were the three from Wirral Council. Cllrs Lynn Riley, Kate Cernik and Michael Edwardson were the three from Cheshire West and Chester Council.
This meeting was originally planned to be held in February 2019, then rearranged to June 2019, then rearranged again to 1st July 2019. A report and video of the public meeting of the Joint Health Scrutiny Committee in December 2018 can be read here.
Please accept YouTube cookies to play this video. By accepting you will be accessing content from YouTube, a service provided by an external third party.
If you accept this notice, your choice will be saved and the page will refresh.
At the start of the meeting Cllr Yvonne Nolan of Wirral Council was nominated as Chair by Cllr Christina Muspratt. There were no other nominations for Chair.
Before the meeting the Wirral Clinical Commissioning Group made it clear to Wirral Council employees (who then made it clear to councillors) that the Wirral Clinical Commissioning Group weren’t happy with scrutiny at the meeting over the proposals that had been made after the consultation had been finished, but regarded the purpose of the meeting as scrutiny of the consultation.
This is what the meeting of the Joint Health Scrutiny Committee in December 2018 had decided:-
Resolved – That
(1) A further meeting of the Joint Committee be held to consider pre-decision the outcome of the consultation, how that has been addressed by the CCG and any new or final proposals arising from the consultation. (probably mid-February 2019);
(2) The committee seeks re-assurance that the proposals will meet the health and wellbeing needs of the people in Wirral and Cheshire and in particular do not disadvantage the area’s most deprived communities or residents who need treatment which cannot be provided by pharmacist or NHS 111;
(3) The committee requests that discussions take place urgently between the Wirral and West Cheshire CCGs on the model of service that best meets the needs of Wirral and Cheshire residents and that the outcome of those discussions are reported to the Joint Committee at its next meeting;
(4) The committee requests further evidence that all options have been fully explored, including those which preserve an adult walk in facility and the reasons why those options have not been offered for consultation; and
(5) The committee requests further information on the location and operation of the proposed wellbeing centres.
But then voted on recommendations of elected councillors are often ignored.
However the meeting on the 1st July 2019 (which can be watched above) concentrated mainly on the consultation in 2018, with the Wirral Clinical Commissioning Group keen to give their opinion to the Joint Health Scrutiny Committee that the consultation had been done properly.
Dr Paula Cowan (Wirral Clinical Commissioning Group) arrived late to the meeting and apologised and explained that she had been seeing patients in Eastham and that getting from Eastham to Wallasey had been difficult. She thanked people who had taken part in the consultation and also referred to the petitions opposing the proposals to close walk in centres.
The issue of public transport access was mentioned by her too.
Various questions were asked by councillors and answers were given by those involved with the Wirral Clinical Commissioning Group. Topics ranged from the clinical senate review, the consultation, the petitions, GP appointments (and the problems patients have), GP retention, new housing developments, mental health, public transport, allied healthcare professionals and confidentiality.
Councillors also asked what powers the Joint Health Scrutiny Committee had. The answer given was that they could make recommendations and/or refer matters to the Secretary of State for determination such as whether the consultation had been adequate.
Access to the Arrowe Park Hospital site by public transport was raised by one councillor and the impact that this would have on the North West Ambulance Service at times it wasn’t well served by public transport.
Cllr Muspratt pointed out that Merseytravel had told her that it couldn’t tell the commercial bus companies what routes and services to run*.
*Just as a side note – Merseytravel and the LCRCA already have a legal power to determine bus routes, fares etc by virtue of the Bus Services Act 2017 but haven’t yet used it and the bus companies have threatened to sue them if they determine routes, fares etc but a report is expected to come back to councillors on the Transport Committee on this matter in Spring 2020.
One of the Cheshire West and Chester councillors brought up that healthcare services such as urgent care should be delivered as close to people as possible.
Cllr Phil Gilchrist (Eastham) also brought up the current consultation on changes to Stagecoach bus services and the cost of taxi services was also mentioned.
Cllr Christina Muspratt said that she felt that taxi drivers would refuse to take passengers to the Arrowe Park Hospital site in case they threw up in the back of the taxi and that the taxi driver wouldn’t be wanting to take the risk. She also made comments on the American system of healthcare.
It was pointed out by the Chair Cllr Yvonne Nolan that closure of the New Ferry and Moreton sites would impact disadvantaged areas of the Wirral most.
At the end of the meeting councillors agreed to have a further meeting after the Wirral Clinical Commissioning Group and Joint Strategic Commissioning Board had met on the 9th July 2019 and made decisions.
The Joint Health Scrutiny Committee decided not to refer the matter to the Secretary of State at this stage but merely to make a recommendation to consider public transport changes and how this impacts on the proposals.
The Chair Cllr Yvonne Nolan didn’t give specific wording for the recommendation but asked the councillors on the Joint Health Scrutiny Committee to ask Wirral Council employees to do this on their behalf.
The proposals arising from the consultation will be decided at a public meeting of the Wirral Clinical Commissioning Group governing body starting at 1.00 pm on the 9th July 2019 in the Council Chamber, 2nd Floor, Birkenhead Town Hall, Mortimer Street, Birkenhead, Wirral, CH41 5EU. The papers for that meeting can be found on the Wirral CCG website.
This will be followed by a public meeting of the Joint Strategic Commissioning Board also to decide on the urgent care proposals starting at 2.00 pm on the 9th July 2019 also in the Council Chamber, 2nd floor, Birkenhead Town Hall, Mortimer Street, Birkenhead, Wirral, CH41 5EU. The papers for that meeting can be found on Wirral Council’s website (it’s agenda item 5 (pages 7-42)).
The proposals are currently to close the two walk in centres in Moreton and New Ferry, to change the opening times at Birkenhead (increased by 2 hours a day), decrease the opening times at Wallasey (by 2 hours a day), leave Eastham unchanged, but to increase the opening times at Arrowe Park by 10 hours a day to 24 hour opening (along with its conversion to an Urgent Treatment Centre).
If you click on any of the buttons below, you’ll be doing me a favour by sharing this article with other people.