The Harwich and Manningtree Standard reported last week on the hostile reception people gave to the local Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) at a public meeting on the future of the Minor Injury Unit (MIU) at the Fryatt. Hardly a surprise, when residents of Harwich see more services being considered for closure at their local hospital!
Past experience has made residents suspicious that this is a done deal. The strength of feeling about maternity services was made loud and clear, but the service was too expensive per birth for the local NHS Trust to keep running. I opposed its closure but it was used less and less, intentionally some might say, making its closure inevitable.
Now we face another fight to try and stop the MIU being taken away. However, there is one key difference this time. The MIU in Harwich is not just wanted, it is well used.
I was told the MIU at the Fryatt ‘only’ accounts for 7 per cent of all of the visits to both MIUs and the walk-in centre a year. The populations closest to each facility show 7 per cent is actually a very respectable share of the local population. There should be no doubt, it is a well-used service.
On top of this, if the service were not there, injuries would still occur. People do not get hurt just because there is a hospital nearby. Closure would just increase pressure on GPs. What about the cost from the inevitable increase in A&E visits?
The Clinical Commissioning Group says that the Harwich MIU is too expensive. They suggest a suitable alternative would be a new unit somewhere in Tendring. This is a nonsense! What are the cost implications of creating an entirely new service at an unknown location when large housing developments are still being proposed? Who has any faith that this would actually happen?
I have seen nothing in this consultation that answers these key questions. There is no strategy here to provide sustainable healthcare in Tendring. The CCG has a budget deficit and they do have to make tough decisions to ensure that they provide value for money, but their decisions should be rational, not just add to costs elsewhere in the system.
The simple fact is the MIU in Harwich is a wanted and used service. It is an important local service filling the gap between GP services and A&E. To take it away when A&E in Colchester is so overburdened does not make sense.
My full objection, submitted to the consultation, is published HERE and I encourage everyone in Harwich to also submit their views to the CCG’s consultation by visiting their website at http://www.neessexccg.nhs.uk/