WEAVER Vale MP Mike Amesbury has welcomed news that plans which could have seen the urgent care facility at Halton Hospital closed and services handed over to the private sector scrapped.

It was announced recently that a private sector provider had won the bidding to run urgent care walk in services in Widnes and Runcorn (Halton Hospital).

The decision led to uproar locally, with Mr Amesbury saying that NHS founder Nye Bevan would be ‘turning in his grave’.

He recently joined unions and community activists to protest outside the hospital, and also raised the issue directly with Health Secretary Matt Hancock in the Commons.

Reacting to the news of the climb down, Mr Amesbury said: “This should never have been on the agenda in the first place but I’m pleased to see they’ve seen sense.

“This was part of what I fear is the creeping privatisation of our precious NHS.

“This is an important victory and just goes to show what can be achieved when we all work together to fight for our NHS.”

Last week, Unison regional organiser David McKnight said: “The people of Runcorn and Widnes turned out to say that they do not want to see their urgent care services sold off to a for-profit company.

"Unison will always oppose the privatisation of NHS services and we are standing together with local residents to demand that these services stay within the health service.

"These services are crucial to the health and wellbeing of the local community, and uncertainty has left staff and patients alike feeling anxious about the future of these urgent care centres."