The plea of general practitioners who were representing 50,000 patients on the issue of plans to shut down three minor injuries units went ignored as the plans were approved by the East Riding CCG. Dr David Fitzsimons, a GP from Withernsea was the only CCG member in the 11 member body who voted against the plans. There have been 21 petitions signed by 25,000 people in the hopes of convincing the CCG to not approve the plans.
The CCG stated that the measures weren’t being put in place as an effort to save money but they come in the wake of a recent vote for the approval of a £6.8m deficit budget. This required over £15m worth of efficiencies and savings.
Addressing the meeting, Dr Fitzsimons said that it was necessary to listen to the GPs complaints that the measures would create health inequalities since they represented 15% of the population. He asked that the current plans be put on hold until certain issues were addressed since people from far-off areas such as Sunk Island and Kilnsea were now unsure how they’d be accessing urgent and palliative care.
If the plans go through, the MIUs in Withernsea, Driffield, and Hornsea will be closed. In Withernsea, 12 hospital beds will be lost and these will be replaced by intensive support at care home beds and at home. As a concession, the CCG offered one slot per hour at the Driffield, Hessle and Withernsea for the treatment of injuries classified as ‘low-level’ but these will need to be booked through NHS 111. However, compared to walk-in MIUs, the ‘8 to 8’ centres have been described as poor substitutes.
Speaking for practices in Hornsea, Withernsea and Hedon, the Holderness Health Alliance stated that the decision would result in the reduction of services to close to 50,000 people and those who will lose out are the ones with the greatest health needs and those who currently lack good access to transport and that this would have a negative impact on their health. The statement from the group added that the only viable alternative for many residents in the area will now be to go all the way to Hull’s A&E facility which is already under a lot of pressure. For Withernsea residents, going all the way to Hull would mean a 35-mile round trip.