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News Archive > General > Minor injury unit closure claims refuted

Minor injury unit closure claims refuted

By Warren Wilkins 10th January 2018

Minor injury unit closure claims refuted
Newquay MP Steve Double stepped into the hospitals row.

CLAIMS a decision has been made to close Newquay Hospital’s Minor Injury Unit (MIU) have been “strongly” refuted.

Jackie Pendleton, NHS Kernow’s chief officer, speaking on behalf of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly Health and Care System, denied the much-needed facility is due to shut.

The denial follows academic Dr Peter Levin publishing his analysis of published NHS management reports, which he concludes shows Cornwall’s network of minor injury units are under imminent threat of closure.

Dr Levin believes only MIUs in Penzance, Camborne, Truro and Liskeard will survive under a new designation of Urgent Care Centres as they meet the required cost-benefit targets. NHS England wants to roll out 150 Urgent Care Centres across the UK by December 2019, which would be GP-led, open 12 hours a day every day and be equipped to diagnose and deal with many of the most common ailments that people attend A&E for, aiming to ease the pressure on emergency departments.

But Mrs Pendleton states no decision has been whether to close any MIUs in Cornwall. She says Mr Levin’s claims Cornwall’s MIUs are under imminent threat of closure, which was published on his Social Policy 4 Cornwall website, were “inaccurate” and “scaremongering”.

Mrs Pendleton states a re-design of the urgent care system process is being carried out following a £264 million shortfall in Cornwall’s health and social care budget and that they had a statutory duty to consult with the public before making any decision about a significant change to the delivery of a service.

“At a time when our urgent care system is under such pressure, we would expect to be able to rely on our local stakeholders and media partners to support us in encouraging the public to use services, like minor injury units, as an alternative to the emergency department,” she said.

“It is therefore really disappointing that Mr Levin has published a report that has so many factual inaccuracies and suggests to the public that their local minor injury unit is under threat of imminent closure. This is simply not true and this scaremongering could cause unnecessary confusion amongst the public at a time when we are encouraging people to use the right service.

“We strongly refute Mr Levin’s claims that we are pursuing a policy to close Cornwall’s MIUs and would like to reiterate the factual statements we have made previously.

“NHS England has asked us to indicate which of our current health facilities were closest to the national specification for an urgent treatment centre and have the potential to be designated by March 2018. NHS England understand, and my briefing to the governing body was explicit that the identification of these sites in no way pre-determines the decision about the number and location of future treatment sites in Cornwall.  We shared this information with the public, via our board papers, to ensure maximum transparency.

“Absolutely no decisions have been made about the number and future locations of urgent treatment centres, formerly referred to nationally as urgent care centres, and any other community alternatives to the emergency department.”

“We are still in the process of working with clinicians, stakeholders and people who use services on the re-design of our urgent care system and we intend to begin the third round of co-production workshops next month.

“Details of any consultation will be promoted via the press, our partners and online to ensure people are able to have their say. No decision will be made before this process has ended and the evidence collected during any consultation has been examined.”

Dr Peter Levin states his findings are covered in hospital management reports that are public, but have not yet been proactively publicised. He said: “If MIUs currently play a significant part in the treatment of patients seeking emergency care and substantially reduce the pressure on the Royal Cornwall Hospital emergency department, and indeed could do more to reduce that pressure, why are they being scrapped?”

Newquay MP Steve Double said: “In light of the recent speculation in the media regards to the future of Minor Injury Units around Cornwall, I want to issue this statement: Upon reading the media reports I immediately contacted the CEO of Kernow Care Commissioning Group (KCCG) to ask for clarification.

“I have been informed by the KCCG that “the articles are not accurate and are taken from a briefing that went to our public governing body in early December. Cornwall Council scrutiny committee was briefed at the time as well.”

“I have also read the minutes of the KCCG Governing Body meeting myself and it is quite clear to me that the report was not addressing the future of MIUs across Cornwall but a very specific matter of which MIUs could be easily upgraded to the new Urgent Treatment Centres.

“At a time when the NHS is facing the biggest pressures of the year this type of scaremongering is not helpful, especially when it is based on misleading information and pure speculation. Please be assured that I believe passionately that we need to retain our MIUs in both Newquay and St Austell and will vigorously fight to keep them should they ever come under a real threat of closure.”

The various NHS partners in Cornwall, and Cornwall Council, first suggested closing Cornwall’s minor injury units under the guise of the Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP) Outline Business Case, first published in October 2016. The STP is moving to become an Accountable Care Organisation (ACO), which has subsequently been re-branded as an Accountable Care System (ACS). Cornwall Council’s Cabinet is due to vote in favour of setting up an ACO (or ACS) on February 7.

By Warren Wilkins 10th January 2018

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