‘Stop dithering and give us our minor injuries unit at Cossham’

Chris Skidmore MP with campaigner Reg Bennett outside Cossham Hospital yesterday

Chris Skidmore MP with campaigner Reg Bennett outside Cossham Hospital yesterday

Campaigners from the re-formed Save Cossham Hospital Group joined Kingswood MP Chris Skidmore yesterday to show their anger at a U-turn over the promised minor injuries unit.

“Stop dithering and deliver what was promised,” was the message to health chiefs from the leader of the group, Reg Bennett.

The community hospital reopened a year ago after a £19m refurbishment and the minor injuries unit (MIU) was part of the deal drawn up in 2009 when the hospital was saved from closure, but now health chiefs are thinking of using the accommodation set aside for the MIU as the base for a rapid assessment service for frail, elderly patients.

With Frenchay Hospital, which has an A&E department, closing this summer, local people needing urgent medical treatment are faced with the prospect of a journey into the BRI in the centre of Bristol or across the city to the new Southmead ‘super hospital’, and public transport links to there from the Kingswood area are poor.

Reg Bennett, spokesman for the Save Cossham Hospital Group, told yesterday’s gathering of about 30 campaigners at the hospital in Lodge Road: “Cossham Memorial Hospital is not a political football. All of our political parties have the same goal – to get the minor injuries unit that we were promised installed in our hospital, now, before Frenchay Hospital closes.

“This hospital was given to the people of Kingswood and district over 100 years ago. If I say ‘we want’ I mean ‘we need’ because what we want is what we need.

“I say to Ben Bennett (programme director for South Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group), we need a Commissioning Group, not a De-Commissioning Group. We had a contract in 2009. It we were a private hospital you would be in court by now for being 12 months overdue on delivery. You have had four years to prepare and 12 months to install. There can be no excuses.

“Handel Cossham Memorial Hospital is the hub of our community health care. We don’t want to travel tens of miles to get treated for a minor injury and clog up our A&E hospitals. We need an NHS-run, NHS staffed, 24/7 minor in injury unit. Kingswood and district are taking a stand. Stop dithering and deliver what was promised.”

cossham signMr Skidmore put down a motion in Parliament this week which reads: “That this House welcomes the first anniversary of the reopening of Cossham Hospital; further welcomes the £19 million refurbishment that includes a renal dialysis unit, x-ray and scanning department, physiotherapy and outpatient appointments and Bristol’s first free-standing midwife-led birth centre that has already delivered hundreds of babies; yet regrets that the minor injuries unit that was promised in the Bristol Health Services Plan and in the 2009 business plan has yet to be installed; and urges the NHS to  complete the minor injuries unit at Cossham Hospital as soon as possible and honour its commitment to the local community.”

Meanwhile Jo McCarron, Labour’s Parliamentary candidate for Kingswood, has called a public meeting for Thursday 27th February at 2.30pm at New Cheltenham Hall to discuss the situation regarding Cossham. Kingswood Labour Party has started a petition which so far has more than 120 signatures.