A walk-in health centre on Ellesmere Port’s doorstep is to resume full opening hours after a community campaign.
The Eastham Clinic on Eastham Rake was earmarked for permanent closure last year but will soon open eight hours a day, seven days a week from May.
The move follows a public outcry from politicians, residents and businesses which led to Wirral Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) announcing a reduced hours schedule for the centre.
That began in January but Wirral Council documents now reveal that from this May the drop-in will move to full opening hours.
The report is to be discussed by the council’s adult care and health overview and scrutiny committee on Tuesday, March 20.
It also says recruitment for the centre has begun, training is ‘on track’ and ‘discussions and plans are under way to enable full reinstatement of service’.
Eastham councillor Chris Carubia (Lib Dem) says it is ‘very good news’ for the area.
He explained: “This result is the accumulation of a lot of residents showing that it’s absolutely, desperately needed this end of the Wirral. It’s constantly full all the time.”
The idea for closure last year was said to be to enable staff from the surgery to help out at Arrowe Park Hospital in a bid to improve its A&E waiting times for patients.
The sudden closure prompted a furious response from the public and left Ellesmere Port and Neston MP Justin Madders, Labour’s shadow health minister, furious.
A less than impressed Mr Madders said: “This decision has to be one of the worst, most ill-thought out decisions that I have ever come across and it is being forced on our community without any warning or discussion.
“Whilst the service is primarily for Wirral residents it is also bad news for my constituents, many of whom have come to rely on this centre as they are unable to get to Arrowe Park or the Countess of Chester.
“Patients have a right to be consulted on major changes to their services so it is appalling that this decision is being made at such short notice and apparently without any consultation.
“In the short term I am concerned that people with medical problems will still be turning up at this centre after it closes as a few days’ notice is simply not sufficient for the message to reach everyone.”
Wirral South MP Alison McGovern (Lab) described the situation in August as ‘brutal’.
An online petition was also launched and attracted thousands of signatures.
That led to the CCG announcing reduced opening hours of 1pm until 5pm Monday to Friday and noon until 4pm Saturday and Sunday.
But the walk-in will soon double those opening hours to eight hours a day, seven days a week.
Cllr Carubia added: “It’s the only facility we have in Wirral South. I understood the reason they closed it but it also seemed to be somewhat of a knee jerk reaction.”
He said it now takes an hour to get from Eastham to Arrowe Park Hospital on the bus, or an ‘expensive’ 34-minute return journey by taxi.
“There was a lot of public support and people standing outside and showing their displeasure at the move to close it,” he added.
There will be a ‘further update’ towards the end of April to confirm the reopening plans, the document adds.