Local people are understandably very concerned about the news that British citizens travelling back from China will be quarantined in an accommodation block at Arrowe Park Hospital. Our concern and empathy is with those being brought to the Wirral under these circumstances. It cannot be easy for them or their families and we wish to see the Department of Health take every step to make sure they are comfortable. We understand that public health officials will provide guidance to all, and residents can find up to date information at www.dh.gov.uk.
We have already received lots of emails from our constituents about this. People are concerned about family members and friends who work at Arrowe Park Hospital and about patients who are being treated there. It is also a difficult time for hospital staff, with those who live at the accommodation reportedly being told to leave at very short notice.
Margaret Greenwood, MP for Wirral West, was contacted by the government’s Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, shortly before news of this story broke, and he has assured her that the returning British citizens were to be assessed before boarding their flight to the UK, and that the Department of Health does not anticipate that any of the people who are arriving at Arrowe Park Hospital from China will be carrying the coronavirus.
As local Members of Parliament we will be monitoring the situation very closely. We are raising questions with the government, including:
- will existing appointments for patients be kept?
- will people still be able to visit patients in hospital?
- can a helpline or web page be set up to answer queries?
- what safeguards are in place to monitor movements on the site?
- who is responsible for enforcing the quarantine?
- where are medical staff coming from? Are they from Arrowe Park Hospital or elsewhere?
- how are the staff who have been displaced from their homes being supported? How long will they be displaced for? How will they be compensated?
Mick Whitley, Angela Eagle and Alison McGovern – the MPs for Birkenhead, Wallasey and Wirral South – are disappointed that the Department of Health did not inform them before the news broke that the returning British citizens would be housed at Arrowe Park Hospital. Jo Churchill MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department of Health, has now said that all Wirral MPs will be kept informed of any developments.
Any local resident with concerns can contact their own MP who will be happy to act on their behalf. Local MPs will continue to press for regular updates from the government and will do our best to keep our constituents informed.