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Minor injury units: Shropshire health officials in shake-up call

By Amy Downward | Bridgnorth | Health | Published:

Health officials have said ‘things need to change’ as they backed a review of minor injury units in the county,

At a meeting of Shropshire Clinical Commissioning Group, bosses said access to community services were currently based on proximity rather than clinical need.

It comes after a review into community care in Shropshire was launched.

The review will look at the county’s four minor injury units (MIUs) in Bridgnorth, Ludlow, Whitchurch and Oswestry, community beds and also DAART – a specialist service including assessment by an expert in older people.

At a meeting of the CCG in Shrewsbury yesterday, health officials gave their backing to the review and said ‘things need to change’.

Dr Tim Lyttle, locality chair for north at Shropshire CCG, said: “We really welcome this review for the north Shropshire area.

“In Whitchurch there is a strong case for change. We are missing some key services at the community hospital like DAART. The MIU unit is also underused. I don’t see any hint in the paper that there are plans to close Whitchurch Hospital. Instead it seems there are plans to strength the hospital and offer more services which we would welcome.”

Dr Deborah Shepherd, locality chair for Shrewsbury and Atcham, said: “This is not a cutting service exercise but more about seeing what we are doing well and how we can spread that out across the county.”

Dr Shailendra Allen, locality chair for South, agreed with fellow board members.

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He added: “The services across the south of the county are patchy and inaccessible. We need to move forward with a new plan.”

Figures released by Shropshire CCG show a total of 23,073 patients attended Shropshire’s MIUs last year. Health bosses say that level of activity was relatively low and worked out at less than one patient per hour in some units.

Also during 2016/17 £789,527 was spent on agency staff to ensure Bishop’s Castle, Ludlow, Bridgnorth and Whitchurch inpatient wards were adequately staffed.

Dr Julie Davies, director of performance and delivery, said: “Our services have grown over the last few years and it now patients access to services is about proximity rather than clinical need. The evidence is there for a case for change.

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“We need to make sure our services are fit for the future and ready for the ageing population.”

A four-week engagement exercise will now be carried out to obtain further patient and public comment before options are presented to the CCG board in January 2018.

GPs hit out at ‘misleading’ statistics

GPs have hit out at ‘misleading’ statistics being used in a major review which will decide the future of Ludlow’s Minor Injury Unit.

The figures are incomplete and could lead to bias, it is claimed.

The review is looking at the county’s four MIUs in Bridgnorth, Ludlow, Whitchurch and Oswestry and community beds.

Figures from the review say the number of attendances at MIU’s are relatively low – less than one patient per hour in some units.

There were 3,757 visits to Ludlow MIU last year of which 75 per cent of patients who attended did not require any diagnostic tests other than a clinical examination. The figures also show that this year Ludlow MIU has been closed on five occasions due to staffing shortages. A statement on behalf of the partners of Portcullis and Station Drive Surgery in Ludlow said: “We feel this discussion is premature as the data used in this working document is still incomplete and can be potentially misleading and may lead to bias.

“A number of requests have been made to the CCG to improve the data so that it is more accurate, more representative and less subject to potential bias and many of our requests have been ignored. We believe that statistics and data in the document are being used in a misleading and biased way in order to favour the closure of some or all community hospitals. We do not feel that the views of all doctors in the group or their suggestions for improvement have been acted upon.

“Therefore, we are considering potentially disengaging with the group as we have lost confidence in the CCG’s ability to be fair and unbiased.”

However, Shropshire health bosses have insisted the review is not about cutting services.

Dr Simon Freeman, from the clinical commissioning group, said: “The NHS cannot cut services. It is more about efficiency than cost cutting. We launched the review due to some of the services we have were poorly commissioned. We have a rapidly ageing population and we are in deficit. So things need to change to be sustainable for the future.”

Tracey Huffer, councillor for Ludlow East, said: “Reform of local health services is essential as costs escalate and budgets are squeezed but the CCG hasn’t listened to local GPs.

“The first stage of any consultation has to be with clinical professionals. That hasn’t happened. That makes the proposed CCG consultation deeply flawed.

“The board of the CCG must start again by working with local GPs, as we have as councillors.” Dr Finola Lynch, GP member of the CCG, said the review was a working document and further consultation was planned.

MP backs town’s minor injuries unit

Oswestry’s Primary Care Centre should be the lynchpin of the area’s NHS of the future, an MP has said.

A report this week revealed that the town’s minor injuries unit, based in the centre on Gobowen Road, has closed seven times this year because of staff shortages.

MP Owen Paterson, who chairs the monthly Health 4 Oswestry meetings, said the building should be a hive of activity, allowing people to be treated closer to home rather than in hospital in either Shrewsbury or Telford.

Health bosses are undertaking a major review of minor injury units, community beds and DAART, specialist diagnostic and assessment care, across the county. Public consultation will begin within weeks.

Oswestry’s minor injuries unit and DAART are housed in the primary care centre, opened in 2011 after a £9 million scheme to transform historic railway buildings. Facilities include X-ray, audiology, podiatry, community and mental health services, speech and language therapy.

Mr Paterson said that community facilities such as those in the primary care centre were a vital part of the Future Fit discussion looking at the future of NHS services across Shropshire. “This building should be the lynchpin of our community health care,” he said. “The more services we can offer within the primary care centre the fewer trips outpatients will have to make to Shrewsbury or Telford hospitals.”

Shropshire Clinical Commissioning Group says only 23,073 patients attended the four minor injury units in the county last year and that it is a relatively low figure.

Amy Downward

By Amy Downward
@AmyD_star

Based at the head office in Ketley covering the north Shropshire area.

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