‘It’s utter madness’: residents and councillors go up against CCG bosses over county’s threatened Minor Injury Units
- Credit: Archant
“It is utter madness to close this unit” was the bold outcry from Soham Town Councillor Geoffrey Woollard as he and over 100 residents from East Cambridgeshire united in their fight to save the Minor Injuries Unit at Ely’s Princess of Wales Hospital.
The Mayor of Ely, Ian Lindsay and Councillors Anna Bailey, Lorna Dupre and Mr Woollard were among dozens who spoke out against the potential closure of the city’s MIU at a meeting with the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).
During Tuesday’s packed meeting at The Maltings, chief officer Tracy Dowling outlined the six options the CCG has drawn up for the three MIUs in Cambridgeshire – with half of them involving the closure of at least one unit – as the group looks to slash overspending of £30 million in half.
However, despite reassurances that the units may not necessarily have to close and a decision has not yet been made, the message from the room was defiant and unanimous – hands off Ely’s MIU.
Cllr Woollard was first to have his say. He said: “Five generations of our family has benefitted from the hospital’s services, but the trouble is that we have been deprived. The RAF Hospital went, the Princess of Wales isn’t what it was and it looks like we might be losing the Minor Injuries in Ely.
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“I’m not asking a question, I’m making a statement – it’s utter madness to close this unit.”
Cllr Lindsay was also vocal in his support, saying that the future of healthcare in the region lies with developing current services, rather than axing them.
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He said: “I think I speak for the City Council in what matters to us is that the citizens of Ely are utterly confident in the services that are going to be provided for them in the future.
“I’d like to try and grow the Princess of Wales Hospital and possibly move the general practitioners up there so that they can be offered more opportunities in terms of their clinical practise and to continue to grow the outpatient’s appointments.
He added: “I’d like these kind of open forums to continue as it’s only too plain that my fellow citizens want to come and make their case clear to you and I think you get their message loud and clear.”
A petition to save the Princess of Wales Minor Injury Unit which has gained over 4,200 signatures was also brought to the meeting by resident Emma Watson, who told Ms Dowling that a “clearer pathway of care” and an improvement to communications should be focused on.
Cllr Bailey called for “robust” plans which incorporate the growth of Ely and its surrounding towns and villages, but appealed to residents to understand the financial struggles the CCG has encountered.
“Everybody in the room must understand the reality of the funding situation,” she said.
“We can all clamour for our own local services but the funding situation cannot be ignored.
“We have 3,000 new homes coming in Ely and 1,500 in Littleport, and we must have a holistic plan on future health care that is based on needs analysis and future growth in all three areas.”
The opinion of those in the room was made clearest of all when Ms Dowling said she hoped the CCG had been honest at the conclusion of the two-hour meeting; she was greeted with a resounding “no” as droves of disgruntled residents left arguably more confused and concerned than they entered.