HEALTH chiefs will be quizzed on the 'bombshell' decision to close the walk-in centre at a clinic in Eastham during a meeting at Wallasey Town Hall tonight.

Labour councillors will demand answers from Wirral Clinical Commissioning Group's chief officer Simon Banks when the Adult Care and Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee meets at 6pm.

Increasing demand for emergency services at Arrowe Park Hospital and its walk-in centre were behind the CCG's decision to end the service at Eastham Clinic on September 4.

A campaign launched by Labour Party Candidate for Eastham James Bennett which has already seen almost 5,000 people sign up calling for the decision to be reversed.

In a letter to Eastham councillors last month the CCG said the new service aims to help ensure people with serious or life-threatening conditions are seen and treated more quickly in the emergency department.

Staff from Eastham walk-in centre will be relocated to Arrowe Park.

Campaigners claim the move will impact on thousands of patients and will hold a demonstration outside the town hall prior to the meeting, which starts at 6pm.

Labour council leader Phil Davies said the decision to close Eastham’s walk-in centre by local health service bosses had been carried out without any consultation with local people or their elected representatives.

Ahead of tonight's meeting he said: "This centre was closed with almost no notice, no consultation with the people who use it, and no adequate explanation.

"We will be demanding answers from the local NHS managers who made this decision and forced it on the local community without asking for their opinions.

"It was the Labour party which created the NHS and has always been its staunchest defender and Wirral Labour will continue this proud tradition, seeking to protect an institution which is cherished by all in our community.

"We will listen to the responses of the CCG managers but we will, with the support of Wirral residents do everything we can to reverse this decision and to protect other NHS locations across Wirral from closure.

"The bottom line is that if the NHS had adequate funds this would not be necessary.

"This closure is part of the same set of policies from the Tories to undermine our healthcare services and which forces hard-working nurses to depend on Foodbanks to get by.

"Alongside local NHS managers, the Government must be held to account for this.

"Theresa May and health secretary Jeremy Hunt are starving the NHS of the money it needs, forcing managers to make unpopular and – I believe in this case – wrong decisions."

The CCG said the new service aims to help ensure people with serious or life-threatening conditions are seen and treated more quickly in the Emergency Department.

The walk-in centre at Victoria Central Health Centre in Wallasey will remain open.

Eastham Clinic will continue to provide a wide range of other clinical services including blood testing and the dressings clinic.

Cllr Mitchell told the Globe recently: "There was no communication to anyone prior to the bombshell.

"We, as local councillors, have fought for this service for many years, when we eventually received it.

"It was a great asset to the south end of the borough, drawing in users from even as far as north wales and Cheshire, due to its accessibility, and it was always the first to close when shortage of staff occurred.

"Given the proposed changes to bus routes here, it will take over two and a half hours to reach Arrowe Park.

"I do not believe any of the following where taken into account; accessibility, distance and absolutely no contact or engagement with local residents, as to the closure.

"Why does the northern end of Wirral have the ability to have three centres, but none for the south?"

The CCG's letter stated that "Urgent and emergency care in the NHS is a national priority and in March NHS England signalled a national commitment to introduce front door streaming services in all accident and emergency departments to help deal with increasing demand and the pressure this creates on clinical services.

"This demand is similar in Wirral and we have decided to take immediate steps to make improvements as quickly as possible to ensure that the resources we have available are best placed as we move towards the winter months."

Dr Paula Cowan, medical director and Eastham GP said: "It's really important that the CCG looks at what resources it has available to ensure that we can meet the needs of people in Wirral.

"We have been experiencing increased demand for emergency services at Arrowe Park Hospital and increasing the staff at the Arrowe Park Walk in Centre will help manage the ongoing pressure on clinical services.

"We recognise that this decision will have an impact on the local community in Eastham "However, we feel that this decision ensures that we are putting our most appropriately qualified clinical staff in the place where they can help keep our local health services safe and effective."

Eastham Liberal Democrat councillor Phil Gilchrist added: "Given this short notice, I wish to formally object to the reduction in service at this end of Wirral.

"We worked to secure this service some years ago. My ward colleagues recently obtained usage figures which show usage from both this end of Wirral and Cheshire.

"Local people, and from further afield, attend services at Eastham because they understand the situation at Arrowe Park Hospital, may not wish to travel there, and are uncertain if local GPS are able to offer an appointment."

Cllr Chris Carubia said: "All summer there have been social media announcements to try not to attend A&E and to go to the Walk in Centres instead.

"Between the start of December last year and the end of July 9564 people attended this centre. 1411 'walked in' in July alone – a record month compared to earlier months.

"September will see us also losing several bus routes making it even more difficult to get to Arrowpark and even our local GP surgeries will not be supplied by public transport.

"It does seem that Wirral South really is this peninsula's poor relation."

Wirral South MP Alison McGovern described the closure decision as "brutal" adding that it would deprive residents in Bromborough, Bebington, Eastham and New Ferry of a much-needed service.

She said: "My constituents need Eastham Walk-in centre to remain open.

"It is too far to get to Arrowe Park or to the Countess of Chester, especially if you don’t drive.

"This brutal situation has arisen because Arrowe Park doesn't have enough staff. The blame for that lies at the door of the Tory Health Secretary.

"The Tories cannot escape what they are doing to our NHS: cuts, staffing problems and now this, closing a vital local walk-in centre.

"I have campaigned for seven years to keep Eastham walk-in open, and I won’t be giving up now."