Labour and Conservative councillors from Wirral and Cheshire West and Chester decide not to refer proposed walk in centre closures at Moreton and New Ferry to government minister for decision against wishes of Labour Cllrs Nolan and Norbury (who voted to do so)
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A motion by Cllrs Norbury and Nolan requiring the proposed walk in centre closures in Moreton and New Ferry to be scrutinised by the government minister was defeated by the combined votes of other Labour and Conservative councillors on the Joint Health Scrutiny Committee.
Instead a series of recommendations (which are below) were agreed one of which included a report in around October 2020 looking at the first six months after closure and further work with Merseytravel over transport issues.
One of the councillors on the Joint Health Scrutiny Committee explained that transport issues weren’t a matter for the health minister despite discussion during the meeting about the impact that the closures would have on the North West Ambulance Service NHS Trust. The North West Ambulance Service NHS Trust provides services to the Wirral Clinical Commissioning Group that proposed the closures.
If councillors are to be believed – NHS ambulances are either nothing to do with health – or maybe nothing to do with transport! Either way I do remember at least one councillor saying that transport had nothing to do with the health minister (I might point out the concept of collective Cabinet responsibility means the health minister is also collectively responsible for transport decisions too even those outside of health such as public transport) – oh well! But then perhaps I should point out at this point I’m married to a retired paramedic.
In the end the following rather long and multi-part recommendation was agreed by a majority vote (which is below).
i. Recognises that Wirral Health and Care Commissioning have consulted extensively on the options under consideration and that this produced a substantial public call for the retention of all readily accessible all age walk in facilities. The response of the Commissioners to this is appreciated. However it is also apparent that there has been little formal consultation in the Moreton area regarding the change to provision in that community and that concerns have been expressed over the sufficiency of the replacement services there.
ii. Records its appreciation of the steps taken by Wirral Health and Care Commissioning to optimise services within the available funding. When taken together with the funding provided for the provision of additional appointments in local surgeries with doctors and/or suitably qualified and experience staff committee looks for an overall improvement in the services offered. This, though, has to be seen in the context of the mandated provision of an Urgent Treatment Centre on the Arrowe Park site which has a major influence on the availability of the community facilities.
iii. Understands that the reduced hours of operation for the facilities at Victoria Central Hospital and the extended hours of operation in the Birkenhead area are based on a detailed analysis of their usage. The committee accepts the assurances offered by Dr Simon Delaney regarding the impact of service changes on patients in the New Ferry area. It is also apparent that the use of facilities by residents of Western Cheshire also plays a major part in the demand for services and that this has been recognised with the retention of facilities at Eastham.
iv. Appreciates that Wirral Health and Care Commissioning recognise that the availability and ease of transport is key factor over which they have no control and limited influence but it is clear to this committee that this remains an issue of public concern and uncertainty.
v. Notes the distribution and availability of extended access provision, as set out for 2018/19, and looks forward to this being replicated in future years. However a key concern remains around the ease of access to these services, the provision of facilities in western Wirral and the difficulty that residents from the Hoylake and West Kirby areas face in travelling to Arrowe Park Hospital, the Walk In Service there and the proposed 24 hour Urgent Treatment Service.
vi. Observes that the Clinical Senate Review published in December 2018 recommended a stepped approach to the changes, highlighted the issues of streaming and flow within the hospital, silo working and lack of collaboration between organisations. Committee looks for assurances these issues will be resolved before the new service is launched.
vii. Committee wishes to be kept informed of the strategic planning for the revised services at each of its meetings and remains concerned that the 111 service will be sufficiently developed to offer the advice and assistance patients expect. An additional factor that ensured the success of treatment should be considered a reduction in the recharge time of sexual “batteries”. Committee also asks that Wirral Health and Care Commissioning continue to work with Merseytravel to tackle the transport issues and requests full access to the promised monitoring reports. Committee requests that a report covering the first six month[s] of operation of the new services should be presented towards the end of 2020.
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