MP says fight is on to keep services at Formby Clinic
Formby MP Bill Esterson has expressed alarm at the news that services at both Formby and Ainsdale health clinics are "under review".
The Labour MP for Sefton Central pointed the finger at the Conservative and Lib Dem parties and said it was their reorganisation the NHS while in Government together which had led to a potential downgrading of the unit.
Lancashire Care NHS Trust confirmed yesterday (Wednesday) that services at the Phillips Lane clinic - and all clinics in Southport - were "under review" after a caller to BBC Merseyside's Roger Phillips radio show revealed that she had been told the clinic was closing in June and that she would have to travel to Ainsdale for treatment.
Mr Esterson said: "Any cuts in our NHS in Formby or Ainsdale would be bad news for patients. The fight is on to keep services at Formby clinic.
"The way that health and social care were reorganised and have been cut to the bone by the Lib Dems and Conservatives has been disastrous.
"We have just come through a battle to save Hightown and Freshfield surgeries, which thanks to the hard work of campaigners in our community have been saved.
"But now patients have this worry about the future of the clinics hanging over their heads.
"Any threat to treatment centres will add to pressure on GPs, and remember that Government plans to reorganise local hospital services include a proposal to close or downgrade A&E at Southport.
"You can’t trust the Conservatives on the NHS and remember the Lib-Dems propped them up in government and supported all the re-organisation and cuts which took place.
"Only Labour will fight for our NHS. Only the next Labour government can guarantee the future of Formby and Ainsdale clinics."
Lancashire Care took over the provision of community services in Southport and Formby from previous providers Liverpool Community Health in 2016 after LCH was disbanded following damning inspection reports.
Mr Esterson said: "When Lancashire Care took over they said they wanted to provide services in a more seamless way and close to people’s homes, but any cut in services at Formby will be the opposite of that.
"The fact that they are carrying out a review shows that there is a doubt over the future of the clinics. If patients have to travel to Ainsdale it will cause real problems for many older and disabled people and will add significantly to the inconvenience. Four miles may not seem like much to some people but to others it will be unthinkable. Any cuts at Formby would of course also add to the pressure at Ainsdale as well as on Formby GPs.
"If there really are no plans to move the Formby treatment room, why carry out a review? Sadly, patients have heard reassurances about “no plans at present” before.
"There were no plans to close Hightown or Freshfield surgeries. Then suddenly Hightown was going to close. It took a concerted community effort to save the GP surgery and I would urge all patients in Formby and across Southport to lobby the NHS to make sure that the clinics are retained.
“Reviews of NHS services have become commonplace since the Conservatives and Lib-Dems forced through the re-organisation of the NHS in 2011.
"Since then, cuts to health and especially to social care budgets have piled on the pressure. Sadly, the crisis in our NHS means that all services are vulnerable to the kind of review that Lancashire Care NHS Trust has announced and this community must again work hard to defend our health services just as we have done to save Hightown and Freshfield GP surgeries in recent weeks and months.”
In an email to the MP on Thursday a spokesperson for Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust said: “There are no plans at present to move the Treatment Room Service from Formby Clinic to Ainsdale. We are currently reviewing the Treatment Room Services in Southport and Formby, and looking at strategies to help improve overall provision of the service and meet local demand. We will be doing a public consultation next month to help inform us on this and would welcome opportunities to speak to members of the public in relation to this.”
MP Bill Esterson at the clinic on Phillips Lane