A SURVEY of Wirral GPs has found that 91% are opposed to Wirral Clinical Commissioning Group’s plans to close local walk-in and minor injuries services.

The survey was conducted by the Wirral GP Federation, representing 25 GP practices from across Wirral.

A similar survey among patients also found that 99% of patients think that the proposals will make services worse, with people particularly worried about how elderly and less mobile patients will get to Arrowe Park, as well as the congestion and parking problems there.

Wirral CCG has argued that closing local walk-in and MIU services would improve services and reduce demand on A&E at Arrowe Park Hospital.

But in response to a Freedom of Information request, the CCG’s own figures for where patients would be redirected under the new plans include nearly 6,000 patients who currently attend local services being directed into A&E, and a further 400 referred to fracture clinics at Arrowe Park Hospital.

Local GPs think even these figures greatly underestimate the additional demand that would be created at Arrowe Park.

Projected additional pressure at the Arrowe Park site under the changes assumes half of the people currently attending WIC/MIUs don’t go, and that many will be accessing extended GP services - which don’t actually exist. The CCG’s figures include 38654 people who they say will be seen through “GP extended hours capacity.”

Moreton GP Dr John Mottram, chairman of Wirral GP Federation, spoke for many GPs: “We are concerned about the impact these proposals will have on our patients and our communities. We are also concerned how ourselves as GPs are expected to cope with additional demand, especially in winter. We encourage people to oppose these proposals.”

Wirral CCG say that because some people currently come to A&E with “low-level” issues, they could be seen elsewhere in the system. However, it has been NHS policy for years to direct people to other services, but A&E attendances have continued to rise.

In Wirral, however, the CCG’s own figures show that when the local walk-in centres and MIUs are open, A&E attendance is below the national average, and when they close for the evening, A&E attendances rise above the national average, showing that the local services actually reduce attendance at A&E.

Dr Abhi Mantgani, who runs Miriam Minor Illness and Injury Unit in Birkenhead says. “The CCG wants to reduce A&E attendances but their proposals give NO indication of how closing local walk-in and MIUs helps this!

The real “confusion” is what people should be using A&E for, and years of attempting to divert attendance elsewhere has failed.

"At the moment, most people come to their local MIU, like Miriam, but if these are closed that will simply mean more people at Arrowe Park Hospital."

The FOI request also shows the range in the costs of dealing with patients at the different sites, ranging from just £15 per patient at the Miriam MIU to £63 per patient at VCH. The cost of a patient attending A&E is between £80 and £100.