A new campaign for a minor injury unit at Cossham Hospital in Kingswood has been launched.
More than 1,100 people have so far signed a petition highlighting the need as local NHS services are over capacity.
The ‘Save Cossham Hospital Group’ fought an original closure decision in 2004. The hospital then underwent a £19m refurbishment and opened in January 2013, providing a renal dialysis unit, birth centre, X-ray and scanning department, physiotherapy and outpatient appointments – but not its promised minor injury unit (MIU).
The ‘Reformed Save Cossham Hospital Group’, led by the late Reg Bennett, tried to force health chiefs in South Gloucestershire to provide the unit as the closure of Frenchay Hospital meant people from the Kingswood area having to trek to Southmead Hospital or to the Bristol Royal Infirmary, or out to the MIU at Yate.
More than 18,000 people signed a petition, which had cross-party support, but instead the Clinical Commissioning Group decided to run a two-year trial offering treatment for minor injuries in GP practices. The cost of running an MIU at Cossham – at almost £1m a year – was a major factor in their decision.
Establishing the service in GP practices in 2016 cost around £500,000. At the time, South Gloucestershire was thought to be the only area in the country in which every patient with a cut, sprain, scald or other minor injury could see a nurse at their GP surgery on the same day as an alternative to waiting in line at a minor injuries unit or hospital A&E department. All 25 GP practices took part in the two-year pilot scheme – but it was then dropped as it hadn’t reduced A&E attendances.
Now a new petition to secure an MIU at Cossham has been started by Josh Ditte on the change.org website to highlight the demand and need for the service. The petition is addressed to the Prime Minister, Kingswood MP Chris Skidmore, Bristol East Kerry McCarthy and Bristol Mayor Marvin Rees.
Kingswood councillor Andrea Reid is among those who have signed it. She said: “Here we go again. A minor injuries unit that was promised and desperately needed at this end of South Glos, but still never materialised. We are miles away from our nearest access to medical treatment. Our nearest acute care hospital is a journey of just over six miles. Our nearest minor injuries unit is a 6.97 mile drive.
“This is an unacceptable barrier to accessing medical treatment, particularly impacting families with low incomes, elderly residents, people with disabilities or reduced mobility, and those families with no transport of their own. The journey distance, combined with the necessity for treatment, hugely increases car use.
“Access to treatment is hugely delayed for those with no transport or low incomes. The journey time is much longer on public transport compared to a car, which impacts positive health outcomes for those with no choice. This then places increased pressure on local ambulance services, who are left to pick up the strain of the inaccessible locations, as well as the real emergencies.
“This situation is increasing health inequalities in the South Glos area. Give us our minor injuries unit. You can always call it another new hospital.”
Other comments on the petition include: “The closest minor injuries unit for both adults and children is over a 30-minute drive away; it will also reduce waiting times at other hospitals.”
This week a spokesperson for Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire CCG, said: “On review, the GP minor injuries service pilot in South Gloucestershire did not prove as effective as hoped in reducing emergency A&E attendances.
“Following the end of the pilot, significant investment was put into existing services in Yate with the MIU’s hours extended to match other units across the area and enhanced X-ray services brought in to increase the unit’s capabilities.
“We continue to urge people to only use A&E departments for life-threatening emergencies and to contact 111 if they need immediate health advice and aren’t sure where to go.”
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