Ipswich: Community leaders to keep a watch over hospital after clinic closure

Community leaders today pledged to keep a watchful eye on waiting times for minor injury patients after a controversial proposal to close the Riverside Clinic was approved.

The Landseer Road minor injuries unit was opened in 2006 to relieve pressure on Ipswich Hospital’s emergency department but NHS bosses have said the clinic has resulted in an increased financial burden.

The plans to close the centre and move it to Ipswich Hospital were approved at an NHS board meeting yesterday in what is expected to create savings of up to �400,000.

An NHS Suffolk spokesman said: “This means minor injuries services will relocate to Ipswich Hospital, which, like Riverside, achieves high standards of care, low patient wait times and a high rate of patient satisfaction.

“Children will benefit from a separate waiting area and all patients and staff will have the backup of hospital support services should a condition become more serious.”

Concerns have been raised about what impact closing the centre will have on waiting times after 23,500 people came to the clinic last year, an average of more than 450 people a week.

Councillors have pledged to keep a close eye on how the service will now run particularly with waiting times, the number of minor injury patients going to the hospital and parking at the hospital.

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David Ellesmere, Ipswich Borough Council leader, said: “It’s desperately disappointing.

“This is a decision that is being taken not on clinical grounds and not on service grounds, it’s a purely financial decision by the PCT.

“More people are going to be going to A&E so I think that will inevitably push up times. We will be keeping a close eye on whether waiting times at A&E are going up.”

County councillor Alan Murray has offered to listen to residents concerns and discuss issues with the NHS.

He said: “I have been appointed to the health scrutiny committee and I’m happy to take on that role. I’m quite happy to be the person for people to feed their questions to.”

Read MP Dr Dan Poulter’s thoughts on the closure on page 34 today.

? What do you think about the closure of Riverside? Write to Your Letters, Ipswich Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, IP4 1AN, or send an e-mail to starletters@archant.co.uk