Cossham campaigners disgusted over refusal to ‘rule in’ minor injuries unit

Published on: 04 Feb 2015

Theodora Clarke addresses the meeting about Cossham Hospital

CAMPAIGNERS walked out of a meeting in Kingswood in disgust when they heard that health bosses would not change their plans over treatment of minor injuries.

The NHS locally intends to try offering services in selected GP surgeries before deciding whether to provide a minor injuries unit (MIU) at Cossham Hospital.

It says it will reveal more details of the proposed pilot scheme this month.

But Reg Bennett, 81, leader of the Save Cossham Hospital campaign, said South Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) should stop complicating matters and create the MIU at Cossham, which was promised when the hospital reopened two years ago after a £19 million refurbishment.

Mr Bennett was speaking at the January meeting of South Gloucestershire Council’s public health and health scrutiny committee, which - as on several previous occasions – was packed out with protesters calling for the MIU. Eighteen thousand people have signed a petition in support of the unit. The meeting was addressed by a number of people who back the Cossham MIU, including Jo McCarron, Labour hopeful for Kingswood, and Theo Clarke, Tory hopeful for Bristol East, and a representative for Kingswood Conservative MP Chris Skidmore.

Ms McCarron said the strength of feeling among people in the area had intensified, particularly as pressure had grown on GP surgeries and accident and emergency units over the winter.

Save Cossham Hospital campaigner Hazel Szots said: “The people of Kingswood and district feel let down by the powers that be. Cossham Hospital was built for the people of Kingswood and that is where they want to go.”

Reg Bennett said an MIU for Cossham Hospital had “ticked the boxes” for an MIU in 2009 and still did so.

“We are still being told it is not being ruled out. Now is the time to rule it in. Stop complicating the situation – give us the MIU,” he said.

Ben Bennett from the CCG, said two factors had prompted the review of the 2009 decision – the fact that the introduction of the Yate MIU had not, as had been hoped, reduced attendance at A&E, and the national picture, which now favoured more services being provided at GP surgeries.

“We will not be amending our plans,” he said, prompting shouts of “shame” and “disgrace” by protesters, who briefly walked out of the meeting.

Bristol councillor Lesley Alexander said people “would not know whether they were coming or going” under the pilot scheme.

“It seems ridiculous to spend money putting it [MIU services] into surgeries,” she said.

Councillor Sue Hope said Cossham was a highly valued centre, which people knew and used. It was accessible and there was parking available, and she felt that “walk-in” services there should be increased. She said it appeared the MIU at Yate was now very well used, and asked the CCG to provide figures.

Committee chairman councillor Ian Scott said the people of South Gloucestershire deserved a minor injuries service like the ones in South Bristol and at Southmead, open from 8am to 8pm, seven days a week.

Ben Bennett acknowledged that it was frustrating for people not to know where the pilot services would be located and what the opening hours would be. He said seven practices had expressed an interest and it was hoped details could be revealed in February.

Councillors voted unanimously to confirm their decision from November to refer the matter to the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt.

After the meeting, Dr Ann Sephton, of the CCG, said in a statement that the decision was disappointing, though not surprising, but would not affect the progress on the pilot scheme. The intention was for services to start in the spring.

“Our proposed pilot schemes for providing minor injury services in GP practices will give patients across South Gloucestershire access to minor injuries services closer to home.

“If this approach works well, minor injuries services would be available for patients through their GP surgery and the out-of-hours service,” she said. 

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