Injuries unit to be closed at night

PATIENTS needing night-time emergency treatment are set to face a 24-hour round trip to hospital - because health chiefs want to close Felixstowe's minor injuries unit.

PATIENTS needing night-time emergency treatment are set to face a 24-hour round trip to hospital - because health chiefs want to close Felixstowe's minor injuries unit.

Campaigners were furious today after their worse fears came true and it became clear the Primary Care Trust has decided the MIU should close at night.

A final decision will be taken in January, but there is already growing concern some families will suffer.

It will mean any asthma sufferer needing treatment, or person wanting suspicious chest pains checked, or needing medication, or a wound or cut dealt with, and many other minor emergencies, will have to drive to Ipswich.

However, the PCT says less than one person a night currently uses the unit - based at night at the Bartlet Hospital - between 12.30am and 7.30am.

Jenny Brabazon, of the Suffolk Coastal PCT patient and public involvement forum, said the PCT's intention was not a surprise but was a bit shocking to know it was going to happen.

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“I am very worried about those people who suffer from asthma who will need help at night, or people who get assaulted on the seafront and need treatment quickly,” she said.

Roy Gray, chairman of the Save Felixstowe Hospital action group, said it was another blow for the resort's health services and the PCT appeared to be lurching from “crisis to crisis”.

In a report to Wednesday's Suffolk East PCT board meeting, John Such, interim head of adult services, said overnight usage of the MIU had been monitored all year.

“The outcome of the audit between December 2004 and August 2005 has confirmed that on average there is less than one person per night attending the minor injuries unit at the Bartlet Hospital between 12.30am and 7.30am,” he said.

The low numbers questioned the cost effectiveness of this service. The MIU is staffed by an extra qualified nurse, and sometimes a health care assistant, in addition to the staffing for the beds.

Monitoring will continue but proposals for the future will be made to board in January.

Do you think the MIU is needed at night or should it be axed? Do you think political parties should lay wreaths at Remembrance? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk

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