Plea for longer injury unit opening hours

CAMPAIGNERS today pleaded with health chiefs to have a rethink over Felixstowe's minor injuries unit - and to allow it to stay open longer at night.From this weekend, the MIU will open from 7am to 8.

CAMPAIGNERS today pleaded with health chiefs to have a rethink over Felixstowe's minor injuries unit - and to allow it to stay open longer at night.

From this weekend, the MIU will open from 7am to 8.30pm at Felixstowe General Hospital.

There will be no night-time service and at night people must call NHS Direct for advice, or their doctor's surgery to be put through to the out of hours service, or go to the Riverside Clinic MIU, in Ipswich, which opens April 1.

But campaigners are concerned that it will close so early in the evening and would like it to stay open until 10.30pm or 11pm.

Roy Gray, chairman of the Felixstowe Save Our Hospitals action group, said there was concern that more people, especially those without transport, would in future call for an ambulance - putting more pressure on that service.

At its meeting which agreed the night-time closure, the Primary Care Trust had indicated it would stay open later than currently planned.

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“I think they should have a rethink - 8.30pm is far too early to close the MIU in a town the size of Felixstowe,” said Mr Gray.

“I can understand the reasons for closing it during the midnight to 7am period as the numbers using it were so small. That is also a quieter time usually for ambulances if they were needed.

“But I think we need the MIU during the evening and it is ridiculous a town of this size will not have that facility.”

He has written to the PCT asking officials to reconsider the opening times.

The MIU is used at night by people with a range of needs, including asthma sufferers, those wanting suspicious chest pains checked, or needing medication or a wound or cut dealt with, and many other minor emergencies.

The PCT said staff shortages and the need to maintain safe levels of patient care has led to the decision to close the unit being made earlier than planned.

NHS Direct can be contacted on 0845 46 47.

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