Following the announcement by the East Riding of Yorkshire CCG in March 2016 that it had plans to close the MIU units in Hornsea and Withernsea, Graham Stuart MP, Member of Parliament for Beverley & Holderness launched a hard-hitting campaign to stop the CCG from closing MIU units in Hornsea and Withernsea, supported by the Hornsea League of Friends, the Withernsea and District Health Forum, and the Holderness Health Alliance.
The survey conducted by the CCG as part of its consultation found very limited public support for the package of proposals, despite a number of very leading questions. In Holderness 90% of people did not agree with the question asking whether they would be prepared to travel further to visit an Urgent Care Centre.
Over ten thousand people have signed petitions opposing the reconfiguration proposed by the CCG. Hundreds of people have attended public rallies organised by the MP in Hornsea and Withernsea, and local GPs in Holderness have expressed their own opposition, as have East Riding of Yorkshire Council and town and parish councils. In addition, the MP arranged a leaflet drop to every home to urge his constituents to join the battle, and set up the Save Our MIU Facebook page which has more than 1,300 followers.
The Beverley & Holderness MP says tension is increasing locally as the wait goes on to find out if Jeremy Hunt, the Secretary of State for Health, will decide to refer the East Riding of Yorkshire Clinical Commissioning Group’s decision to the Independent Reconfiguration Panel.
The MP said: “Under pressure from the campaign the CCG made a U-turn on its idea to remove minor injuries cover completely from Withernsea and revised its plans so that the hospital will be open from 8am until 8pm seven days per week, with an appointment every hour reserved for minor injury cases. This is a victory for everyone who said the CCG needed to think again, and the Withernsea and District Health Forum deserve huge credit.
“Separately, I am also opposed to the removal of community beds from Withernsea Hospital. These beds provide an important service to local people and allow patients to receive treatment close to home. People do not want to be stranded miles from their friends and relatives when they are in hospital. Whilst every effort should be made to encourage and support patients who can leave hospital to do so, “time to think” beds cannot be a substitute for good local hospital care.”
The MP continued: “The situation in Hornsea is my top priority, and the CCG must think again. If they suffer a minor injury, residents want help to be available locally rather than having to travel to Beverley, particularly if they are elderly or vulnerable – a message the Hornsea Hospital League of Friends has emphasised since the start of the campaign.
“I am deeply disappointed the CCG has ignored local people who are overwhelmingly in support of my campaign. The CCG’s decision to close the Minor Injuries Units is widely regarded as a betrayal of the community. That’s why earlier this year I joined forces with Sir Greg Knight, Member of Parliament for Yorkshire East, and we asked the East Riding Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee to refer the matter to the Secretary of State; this is the only chance we have to halt the changes the CCG wants to introduce. It’s reassuring that the Committee unanimously resolved to do so, and did it quickly, on the grounds that the proposals are not in the interests of local health services and that consultation by the CCG was inadequate; a view I endorse.
“The pressure was piled on the CCG’s controversial plans in May when the Holderness Health Alliance, a grouping of four GP Practices in our area, unearthed new evidence to support the local view that the CCG’s consultation was flawed. I was immediately struck that this information needed to be seen by the Secretary of State and I made sure he saw it straight away in early June. Since then I have taken every opportunity to raise the matter with him.
“I spoke to Jeremy Hunt in person last month in Parliament, wrote to him last month, and have written to him again this month, to let him know the community is holding its breath waiting to find out if he will refer the CCG’s plans to the Independent Reconfiguration Panel. If he decides not to, then the CCG’s plans will go ahead; if his advisers recommend the referral to the IRP then we still have a chance of having the CCG’s plans overturned.
“The IRP is the experienced independent examiner of CCGs’ proposals. If the Secretary of State asks them to look at the issue, they will report back to him on whether or not they think the CCG has properly involved patients and the public in planning and making decisions about health service changes. In a letter I received this week from Philip Dunne, Minister of State for Health, he tells me that the Department’s officials are still reviewing the case and have yet to decide whether or not to make the referral to the IRP.”
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