GP surgeries to pilot minor injuries service

Published on: 30 Nov 2014

reg bennett

HEALTH chiefs are going ahead with a trial scheme for certain GP surgeries in South Gloucestershire to treat minor injuries in spite of continued loud demands for a permanent service to be provided at Cossham Hospital.

Up to five GP practices will take part in the pilots – their locations are due to be announced before the end of this month. It has also been revealed that BrisDoc, which provides GP out-of-hours services, could be involved.

South Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group says the trial will cost £150,000 to implement and will last between three and six months. Only after assessing the impact of the pilots will it make a decision on the long-promised minor injuries unit (MIU) at Cossham.

The CCG is concerned that it would cost £1 million a year to open a unit at Cossham, which could only be justified if attendance at hospital accident and emergency departments was reduced – something it does not think will happen.

South Gloucestershire’s public health and health scrutiny committee, which last week heard complaints from campaigners and councillors, said this was not good enough and voted unanimously to ask Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt to review the proposals.

After the meeting, CCG chairman Dr Jonathan Hayes said: “We recognise the frustration about reaching a decision on a minor injuries unit at Cossham. However, we have a duty to the population of the whole of South Gloucestershire to provide services that are equitable to all, evidence based, of high quality and which make the most effective use of the resources available.”

The campaign in support of the minor injuries unit, as agreed in 2009, has been growing since Cossham Hospital reopened in January 2013 after a £19 million refurbishment. It is backed by all the major political parties.

Reg Bennett, of the Save Cossham Hospital Group, said 17,850 people had signed petitions in support of the unit.

He told the committee: “Our GPs are hard pushed to give us appointments now. Surgeries are not coping. We are not convinced surgeries can take on the extra workload. We are also told there will be no out-of-hours services at these surgeries … and if you need an X-ray, you would have to go to Cossham.”

Kingswood’s Conservative MP Chris Skidmore said he backed referral to the Secretary of State and pledged to meet Mr Hunt and urge him to pass the matter on to the Independent Reconfiguration Panel.

His Labour opponent Jo McCarron said the campaigners’ trust in the CCG was wearing thin because it seemed unable to come up with convincing answers to basic questions about where the pilot provision would be and what times it would be open.

Dr Ann Sephton, of the CCG, said Cossham was central to plans for providing urgent care for those who lived near the hospital, but the trial of GP minor-injury treatment was needed to ensure money was spent in the most appropriate way for patients across the whole of the area.

Lib Dem councillor Sue Hope said people would not know where to go for the treatment they needed.

“Put all the services into Cossham where people know where the service is and know how to access it,” she said.

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