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HEALTH: Councillors call for Cannock Minor Injuries Unit to reopen

HEALTH: Councillors call for Cannock Minor Injuries Unit to reopen

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A reopening date has still not been announced for a hospital unit that closed as a temporary measure 18 months ago – prompting community leaders to call on health commissioners for answers.

Cannock Minor Injuries Unit shut in March 2020, the week before the country went into its first national lockdown, to enable staff to provide support for patients needing urgent care at New Cross Hospital.

Hundreds of people have signed a petition urging health bosses to reopen the walk-in centre at Cannock Chase Hospital.

Cannock Chase Council is also calling for the return of services at the MIU. Councillors remain concerned that no reopening date has yet been announced and have raised the issue with service providers and commissioners.

Speaking at this month’s full council meeting Councillor Val Jones, cabinet member for community engagement, health and wellbeing, said: “We wrote a letter to David Loughton, chief executive officer of Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust, to express our concern the Minor Injuries Unit hasn’t yet reopened. He responded and said he was expecting a decision from commissioners at the end of August.

“That hasn’t yet been forthcoming so we have written to the commissioners to push the decision because it’s immensely important to residents across the district.”

In a letter to Staffordshire and Stoke on Trent CCGs’ (Clinical Commissioning Groups’) accountable officer Marcus Warnes, Cannock Chase Council leader Olivia Lyons and Councillor Jones said: “On behalf of Cannock Chase residents we hope that both the lead provider and the commissioners for South West Staffordshire will give due consideration to the reopening of the MIU.

“We fully appreciate that there was a need to close it last year as staff from the unit had to be redeployed to other critical areas of the hospital, due to the pressures of Covid. In his response Professor Loughton explained that Covid has led to a review of all commissioned services and that by the end of August the service model will have been agreed.

“Many of our members at the district council are receiving a significant number of complaints from their residents about the lack of the facility now that society is reopening. This unit provides a valuable service to local residents with minor injuries and ailments, who would otherwise have to travel to one of the A&E departments where not only would they be taking up resources which are needed for those with more serious conditions and illnesses, they would probably have to endure long waits to be seen.

“We understand that local hospitals are currently preparing for winter pressures which they usually do around this time in an effort to prevent a winter crisis. This year there will be additional pressures from Covid, however residual, and the backlog of those patients whose conditions have deteriorated during the Covid period.

“The MIU is a trusted and well-respected service which we believe plays a key role in our local urgent care pathway diverting people from A&E and reducing the pressure whilst providing a locally accessible service.”

Earlier this year Professor Loughton told a Cannock Chase Council meeting Cannock hospital was a “vital part of plans to recover from Covid-19”, but warned it would take some time to get treatment waiting lists back to the pre-pandemic level.

And Councillor Phil Hewitt told fellow members that he had to travel to Lichfield for treatment after sustaining a small injury during lockdown.

Words: Kerry Ashdown, Local Democracy Reporter

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