minehead hospital

MP condemns fresh hospital closure

HEALTH officials have been accused of plotting to reduce services at Minehead’s minor injuries unit by stealth.

MP Ian Liddell-Grainger says he is convinced there is a plan on the table to permanently close the facility at night.

And he says it is time Somerset NHS Foundation Trust came clean with local people.

The unit has been partially closed for four months because of what are described as ‘safety concerns’ for patients attending it at night – when there is only a skeleton staff on duty.

The trust claims people needing urgent treatment may be at greater risk if they go to Minehead first and then have to be referred to Musgrove Park Hospital in Taunton.

Remain closed

This week the trust’s board announced the unit would remain closed for a further six months until May next year.

Dr Matt Hayman, the trust’s deputy medical director, said officials had engaged with local people to understand their concerns and the impact of the temporary closure of the overnight service on them – but there remained more work to do.

But, said Mr Liddell-Grainger, MP for Bridgwater and West Somerset: “That is a totally spurious statement. The board has had four months to take local soundings about the closure: how much longer does it require and how many more opinions does it need to hear?


“I am deeply unhappy about this situation: even more unhappy than I was back in July when the announcement was sprung on us, because we are moving into the winter months when journey times to Taunton are likely to become longer and more fraught and ambulance response times even longer than the current, abysmal average in West Somerset.

“I am afraid I have become rather cynical about the board’s motives: clearly what is going to happen now is that on May 1 it will announce that Minehead has managed pretty well without the unit for 10 months, no-one has died and therefore the closure will become permanent.

“That is going to gravely jeopardise the health and wellbeing of people in West Somerset – and solely because the board will not allocate the funding to employ appropriately-qualified night-time staff.”





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