Dozens of concerned residents have this week attended a drop-in session amid a possible closure threat to Burnham-On-Sea Hospital’s minor injury unit.
Burnham-On-Sea.com reported that the NHS’s seven MIUs across Somerset, including one at Burnham-On-Sea War Memorial Hospital in Love Lane, could be closed down and replaced with a smaller number of ‘urgent treatment centres’ across Somerset.
While no decisions have yet been taken, the government is seeking to introduce urgent treatment centres across the UK which will be larger hubs run and staffed by GPs, with longer opening hours and a wider range of services.
A ‘drop-in session’ was held this week at Burnham War Memorial Hospital where staff from Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) were on hand to hear concerns from local people.
Bernie Spilsbury, Chairman Friends of Burnham Hospital, told Burnham-On-Sea.com: “It became very clear in the first five minutes that from the ad-hoc arrangements for a consultation that they were not expecting the volume of people that turned up.”
“Many people left the meeting feeling that the decision has already been made, however this is claimed to be a consultation. So it is now up to the people of Burnham, plus the caravan owners, clubs and businesses in this area, to persuade the CCG that we need our hospital and its Minor injuries Unit.”
“It is hoped that CCG will take away the suggestions that a public meeting should be arranged in a large capacity hall such as The Princess and that similar meetings should be held for younger people in a school facility such as King Alfred School.”
Dr Jane Harris, spokesperson for Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group, told Burnham-On-Sea.com: “We are delighted that the people of Burnham came out to talk to us. They are clearly very passionate about their hospital and the services that they have here but we also had some really good discussions about what doesn’t work so well, so lots of things around transport and travel, and how it’s difficult for people to get around especially the older population.”
“There was lots of discussion around the holidaymakers and the impact they have on the town and the infrastructure and the impact on services. There were lots of positive suggestions about how things could look better, so what could we bring out of Musgrove for example and have accessible more locally. There were also some really interesting discussions around end of life care and how we support people, so it’s been a really really interesting afternoon.”
“I think everyone’s concerned, but I think a lot of people were reassured that we’ve come out early to have these conversations about our early thinking and were reassured that they having the opportunity to have their say now and also will get that opportunity when we go to public consultation on concrete proposals.”
“We’re sharing our early thinking around how services might look and getting their feedback on that but no decisions have been made at the moment and no decision will be made until we’ve gone through a public consultation and talked through what the next steps are.”
“We’re running the engagement to the 12th April so will gather all the feedback from everyone from online, from the notes we make from meetings, and from emails. Everything will go off to an independent company called Participate who will do that analysis for us independently.”
“We will then publish a report later this year and will send that out. That intelligence would go into the next stage of planning so are able to come back with some proposals to people based on what we’ve heard but also based on the data that we have about people’s needs, different demographics in different areas and the information we have around staff capability.”
“We are then looking to go out to public consultation on those proposals that will run for at least three months and everyone will have the opportunity to have their say and make the case. We would then work up a decision-making business case which will go to the CCG governing body meeting public meeting and any decisions will be made at that meeting followed by public engagement. It is 12 months before we’ll be in a position to make any kind of decision but we will keep people updated.”
Local resident Gaynor Brown, who also attended the drop-in-session, told Burnham-On-Sea.com: “I filled in the CCG ‘survey’ on line and found it a dreadful document and very inadequate indeed. The questions were repetitive and confusing and often very indistinct. They also completely failed to even ask questions on the major problems impacting NHS care or lack of it in the Burnham area.”
“This area is unique in the problems that patients have to contend with and the problems that impact on the ability to provide many forms of care for the population where a huge percentage of the residents are elderly.”
“The CCG fails to address the impact of waiting lists (GP and hospital lists) on augmenting conditions and being partly responsible for the rise in multi-condition dependent patients. In our Memorial Hospital, owned by the community and loved by it, we have only 22 beds left. This is as a result of several cuts in services already.”
“Rather than contemplate closing the unit or removing the Minor Injuries Service, the CCG should look at its map and compare where there is a need, rather than where their centralised higher services are provided. The hospital provision is all in the south of the county.”
“We have 22 beds to serve 20,000 people! But the CCG does not include the 35,000 per week visitors who invade each summer. This influx mean some 70,000 people movements per week half in and half out. So the provision of beds is 22 per 55,000 residents, an inadequate provision now.”
A second drop-in session will be held at Burnham Library on 24 March between 3pm-5pm.