MP in fighting mood to halt closures as NHS bosses come under fire at public meeting in Doddington over threat to minor injuries units

CCG meeting, Doddington

CCG meeting, Doddington - Credit: Archant

More people were turned away rather than allowed in to a packed public consultation in Doddington last night concerning the threat to close three Cambridgeshire minor injuries units.

Local people fuming after being refused entry.

Local people fuming after being refused entry. - Credit: Archant

With standing room only and many more being refused entry at the door due to a lack of space, many were left outside or forced to go home from the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Clinical Commissioning Group consultation.

“They should have known there’s a lot of people wanting to come, surely?” said MP Steve Barclay, who addressed those refused entry. He was leaked confidential documents by an NHS whistleblower suggesting decisions have already been made to close Minor Injuries Units at Doddington, Wisbech and Ely.

“Over the last 20 years or so Fenland has been short changed,” he said. “I’ve not had an answer about how many patients have been treated in the last six months, either.

“It’s this area that should be protected, instead of Cambridge and Huntingdon where most of the money is spent.”

MP Steve Barclay addressing those who couldn't get into the CCG meeting, Doddington.

MP Steve Barclay addressing those who couldn't get into the CCG meeting, Doddington. - Credit: Archant

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The MP and his team also gave me a list of the top six CCG salaries – totalling around £500,000.

“The CCG costs £18 million to run and they have 274 staff,” he added.

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“However I don’t quite know what they’re actually doing.”

Inside, Tracy Dowling, chief strategy officer of the CCG, who chaired the meeting, was faced with dozens of fearful questions from attendees including residents and several councillors.

Villagers refused entry into CCG meeting in Doddington.

Villagers refused entry into CCG meeting in Doddington. - Credit: Archant

Among those in attendance was Fenland District Council Leader John Clarke, FDC cabinet member Will Sutton, Fenland councillor Anne Hay, Wimblington councillor Maureen Davis, Fenland councillor Kit Owen, March town councillor Martin Field, Whittlesey town councillor Martin Curtis, Fenland councillor Mike Cornwell, Chatteris town councillor James Carney and Mayor of March Andrew Donnelly.

Mrs 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.

“We can’t keep spending money we don’t have,” said Mrs Dowling, adding that Doddington’s services is better than the Ely and Wisbech MIU’s.

“People with minor injuries will be treated, but we’re reviewing what the best way of doing it is.

“We are developing options for the future but we have not finished as yet.”

Several times during the consultation Mrs Dowling reiterated that the CCG is still reviewing options and no decisions have been made.

When asked if the review could be delayed by two years, she replied: “This is about here and now; we cannot take two years to make decisions about how we get our finances in order.”

However, an audience member said: “We need to know what’s actually envisaged before we evaluate the options.”

Mrs Dowling assured residents that “I am going to be very firm next week in the CCG meeting”. She added that the CCG hope to have a firmer idea of what might happen by November.

Stephen Parr of Chatteris summed the evening up by saying: “Public meeting and you can’t even get in, what a farce!”

Linda Robinson of March added: “If they had actually brought the signing-in sheet outside then they would understand the depth of feeling. But people aren’t being asked to sign it.”

Andy Oakes of Doddington, who was unconvinced by Mrs Dowling’s presentation, said: “They’re just spouting out a script - I’ve just got a funny feeling it’s a done deal already.”

Another person, who stormed out of the meeting half way through, shouted “it’s money more than lives” as she left.

Doctor David Donovan from Riverside Surgery, March, said: “To take it {the MIU’s} away would be the bottom line.”

March Town Councillor Stephen Court told me: “It’s just what I expected to them to say; it’s a money saving exercise.

“What I’d like to see is a public protest because something like this is very important to the local community.

“The people making decisions are not local people; they don’t understand the real need for the MIU’s.”

Shirley Morrissey of Doddington, said: “We need a couple more nurses rather than CCG staff members doing a lot of the same thing.”

The most popular comment from the evening came when a lady, who used to live in a rural village in Kent, revealed how their hospital was saved.

“We marched the street and 25 years later that hospital is still there,” she said, to applause and cheers.

Another resident summarised the importance of the Doddington MIU by saying “Ely has Cambridge, Wisbech has King’s Lynn, but Doddington… we have nowhere.”

After the meeting, Mr Barclay said: “Questions still remain unanswered and vague information is being presented by the CCG.

“I will be meeting with the CCG next week in my continued battle to save these valuable services for the Fenland community.”

Cllr Curtis said: “I have serious concerns about tonight.

“I thought the information was vague and I am not sure the presentations were thought through well enough. Some issues were skipped over.”

The next public consultation about the threat to close three Cambridgeshire MIU’s takes place tomorrow (25) at the Rosmini Centre, Wisbech from 6.30pm.

There will then be a meeting at March Community Centre on Thursday September 8 from 6.30-8pm.

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