MPs have condemned health commissioners for “failing to listen” to the thousands who signed petitions after they recommended closing minor injuries units in three East Riding towns.
Proposals to dramatically reshape the way care is delivered by East Riding Clinical Commissioning Group prompted a huge response, with over 25,000 people signing 21 petitions against the closures.
The CCG today announced its recommendations to its governing body, which meets next Tuesday. Under the proposals urgent care centres will open at Beverley, Bridlington and Goole, offering “consistent” advice and treatment for 16 hours a day, 365 days a year.
However Hornsea’s MIU will close, leaving local residents facing a 24-mile round trip to the nearest urgent care centre at East Riding Hospital in Beverley.
As a concession the CCG proposes providing a number of slots at Withernsea and Driffield hospitals and Hessle booked via NHS 111 for “low level” minor injuries.
The Macmillan Wolds unit at Bridlington - which local residents fought to save - will close as well as another 12 beds at Withernsea, to be replaced by 25 beds in care homes - some in Bridlington and South Holderness - and an intensive rehabilitation centre at the Beverley hospital.
MPs Graham Stuart and Sir Greg Knight said they would call on the Health Overview Scrutiny Committee at East Riding Council to formally refer the case to Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt and the Independent Reconfiguration Panel.
They said: “We are grateful to the thousands of constituents who signed petitions and attended rallies to make their views known.
“The decision to close these minor injury units flies in the face of what people in Hornsea, Driffield and Withernsea have campaigned for. We recognise that some concessions have been made in the plans regarding Withernsea and Driffield, but that is not a substitute for a proper walk-in service.”
June Barton, the chairwoman of Hornsea Cottage Hospital League of Friends, said it was a “kick in the teeth.”
She said: “When they refurbished the hospital four years ago we were promised services including the MIU, and now they are backtracking.” She said she felt “let down” by Mr Stuart, her MP, adding: “Lets face it the vast majority of his constituents are in Beverley. I am extremely disappointed.”
The CCG’s chief officer Jane Hawkard insisted they had listened. She said what they were offering at Driffield and Withernsea was “a much improved offer” which would run 8am to 8pm, seven days a week.
She said the MIU at Hornsea got only eight to 10 people a day, and around half of those were for follow up appointments and wound care. Wound care would continue to be delivered at the cottage hospital. She said: “The nearest urgent care centre is 12 miles away. It will be an improved service 16 hours a day. It will have X-ray facilities. We have to consider whether that is a better offer.”
A huge promotional campaign will get under way to explain the changes, with leaflets being delivered through every door.
People in Withernsea and Driffield will have to ring the NHS non-emergency 111 number to book a minor injuries appointment. Ms Hawkard said they “were going to test 111 to destruction” to ensure people were routed to the right centre. She said they recognised the Macmillan Wolds unit at Bridlington was held in “high esteem” but said they want to provide palliative care in the community “as in other areas”. She added: “Macmillan (the cancer charity) do support that direction of travel.” They are aiming for a smooth transition over six to nine months.