Resort’s hospital to have no weekend doctors

FELIXSTOWE: Health bosses today pledged that the future of Felixstowe’s vital emergency unit is safe – but admitted doctors will no longer be at the hospital at weekends.

Campaigners had feared there could be major changes to the minor injuries unit (MIU) at Felixstowe Community Hospital.

However, NHS Suffolk chief executive Carole Taylor-Brown has assured them there are no specific plans to put the service out to tender to be run by a private company – and officers at the trust say there are certainly no moves to close it.

There will be some slight changes though when Harmoni HS Ltd takes over the out of hours service from Take Care Now.

At present, on Saturdays and Sundays doctors are usually at the hospital in Constable Road for a couple of hours depending on workload across the area.

In future they will not be, but NHS Suffolk says a doctor will be at the unit within 30 minutes if needed.

Health officials say as there is currently no guarantee there will be a doctor available when a person arrives at the MIU, as attendance is a flexible arrangement at the weekend, this will not reduce the cover, especially as the new contract will mean more GPs available.

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“The cover will be no less than it is now,” said an NHS Suffolk spokesman.

“There will always be a doctor within 30 minutes’ driving time and the people working at the MIU, highly-skilled nurse practitioners, give a fantastic service, can deal with many situations and have access to immediate advice from a doctor.

“The system of people phoning the NHS to get advice, then making an arrangement to meet a doctor or have a home visit will continue as it does now.”

<n> Are you happy with the out of hours doctors service? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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FELIXSTOWE: Health campaigners say the minor injuries unit at Felixstowe needs better promotion to ensure it is used more and its future remains safe.

Injuries dealt with at the MIU include cuts, grazes, fainting, moderate asthma, mild abdominal pain, gastric upsets, simple burns and scalds, allergic reactions, fever, low blood sugar, minor head injury, falls, sprains and some eye problems.

“It is a vital service – the staff are excellent and can deal with so problems – and it is a reassurance to everyone just having it here, knowing we have access to health services immediately in a minor emergency,” said Felixstowe councillor Mike Ninnmey.

“My concern though is that it is not promoted enough. We hear lots about the Riverside Clinic in Ipswich and many Felixstowe people think you have to go there when they can just pop down to Felixstowe hospital.”

Roy Gray, chairman of the Felixstowe Save Our Hospitals Action Group, said: “It is essential we keep the MIU – many people would find a 28-mile round trip to Ipswich difficult.”