North Cornwall Labour Party supporters are calling on NHS Kernow to disclose more details about how it is planning to close Minor Injury Units (MIUs.)
There are three MIUs in North Cornwall – Bude, Launceston and Bodmin – and all are under threat.
Confidential NHS minutes (SOF1) obtained using Freedom of Information laws, reveal that health officials are considering how patients in East Cornwall could be forced to travel to Devon for minor injury treatment. Minor injuries are defined as those which are not urgent, and should not need Accident and Emergency department treatment.
NHS Kernow has said it is “committed” to closing all of Cornwall’s MIUs as it considers where to base four new Urgent Treatment Centres, designed to ease pressure on the Accident and Emergency department at the Royal Cornwall Hospital, Truro.
The closures are still at least a year away but the process of deciding the future of MIUs, and the consequent impact of their closure, on community hospitals, is already underway.
North Cornwall Labour Party wants NHS Kernow to publish more details of its secretive Strategic Estates Group, which is now assessing the value of various buildings – starting with St Austell.
The confidential minutes of this group (SOF2) say: “UTCs will be open longer hours, be able to undertake X-rays at weekends, be GP-led, ideally have a CT scanner and short-stay observation beds.
“On the assumption that the current MIUs have X-ray equipment, there are 15 MIU/UTC in Cornwall (including St Mary’s and Treliske) and 3 or 4 over the border in Devon, for use by the population residing in East Cornwall.
“The plan is to undertake a desktop review on each possible site to look at building fabric, accessibility, viability etc then enter findings on a report to result in a ranking system from one to five.
“The first desktop review is to take place in St Austell early in 2018.”
Each NHS building will be “scored” with a ranking. The Strategic Estates Group does not meet in public and none of its 11 members is elected. Yet the group has already produced an outline business case for re-shaping health services in Bodmin – with no public involvement at all.
North Cornwall Labour Party has written to NHS Kernow asking for more details.
Joy Basset, who lives in Bodmin and who was Labour’s Parliamentary candidate for North Cornwall in 2017, said it was vital for people to have confidence in the NHS decision-making process.
“We need to know more about NHS Kernow’s Property Asset Scorecard, and to understand which elements score more highly than others,” she said. “People will suspect that this exercise is simply about saving money – and that rural communities, particularly Bude and Launceston, will lose out.
“We are continuing to ask questions about what is going on in Bodmin. It is now more than a year since the town’s Treatment Centre was closed, with no public consultation at all.
“The Strategic Estates Group meetings should be open to the public. Their agendas should be published and people should be involved in this process. It is not good enough to simply present us with a league table and say ‘sorry, your hospital came bottom so we’re closing it.’
“You can get the answer you want by framing the question in a certain way. Labour says the NHS belongs to everyone, and we should all be involved in any redesign of our health service.”
For more information contact:
Sonya Gibbs – Press Officer, North Cornwall Constituency Labour Party: firstname.lastname@example.org
Joy Bassett – Former Labour PPC and Membership Secretary, North Cornwall Constituency Labour Party: email@example.com