South Gloucestershire Liberal Democrat councillors have been left unimpressed by suggestions that Yate Minor Injuries Unit (MIU) should continue to turn patients away at irregular times in order to manage its workload. Sirona, which manages the MIU, has been trialling this procedure over the past few months, and claims that it has resulted in a better and more efficient service.
South Glos Lib Dem Deputy Leader, Cllr Claire Young, said: “While turning away patients to manage workload may produce a better service as far as MIU’s managers are concerned, it’s hardly better for the patients who find themselves having to go elsewhere. We know patients travel from a wide area to use the MIU so it’s vital they know whether the service is open before they set out.
“We have surveyed local residents about their experience of the MIU and there is clearly confusion about the service on offer. Some residents thought that the MIU would treat minor illnesses. Many are unaware of the minor injuries services on offer at local GP practices or believe they will face the same delays they do when trying to book a GP appointment. We believe local health managers should focus their efforts on improving public awareness rather than adding to the confusion through early closures at the MIU.”
Lib Dem Health Spokesperson Cllr Sue Hope, said: “Yate MIU is a well-liked and well used service. Instead of viewing the high use of the MIU as a problem, we have suggested that local health managers look at ways to increase the level of capacity and range of services available there, to meet demand. Ultimately though, if we want more services, the local NHS needs more funding. I hope that our local Conservative MP will join us in calling for the Government to stop their unjustifiable cuts to our local NHS.”
The news that North Bristol NHS Trust (NBT) have given the nod to developer Redrow to put in a planning application on the former Frenchay hospital site has called into question the future of the Thornbury Hospital site. Assurances were previously given that both sites would be used for community health and care facilities.
Thornbury Councillor Maggie Tyrell said: “We were told in November that the future requirements for health and care facilities at Frenchay and Thornbury were under review and that recommendations would be made by the Spring. We know now that, by that time, NBT were already in talks with Redrow about developing housing across much of the Frenchay site. This planning application pre-judges the outcome of the review, and raises the questions as to whether the Thornbury site will also be targeted for housing development.”
Fellow Thornbury Councillor, Shirley Holloway, said: “I have asked representatives from NBT directly if they intend to turn the Thornbury Hospital site over to developers, as appears to be happening at Frenchay. They assure me that they have no such plans, and that they remain committed to providing health and care facilities at both Frenchay and Thornbury. However, we remain concerned that, with the local NHS so strapped for cash, at least some of the Thornbury site may end up being turned over to developers.”
Deputy Leader of South Glos Lib Dems, Claire Young, said: “It is outrageous that the NBT are considering allowing houses to be built on land that was supposed to be set aside for community health facilities before they’ve worked out how to provide those facilities. Ultimately, however, it’s not the NBT who are to blame here, but the Conservative Government that has left the local NHS chronically short of money.
“The Lib Dems believe that we should raise income tax by a penny on the pound give the NHS has the money it needs, so that health managers can concentrate their efforts on improving services, rather than constantly having to look for ways to raise extra money.”
South Gloucestershire Council has passed a Liberal Democrat amendment calling upon the local NHS Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) to involve the local community in shaping the future of health services in Thornbury and Frenchay.
Cllr Maggie Tyrell, who proposed the amendment, said: “We believe that it is critical that the NHS listen to representatives of the local community when it comes to new health provision at Thornbury and Frenchay. I’m very pleased that Council supported my amendment, which calls on the CCG to set up stakeholder groups for both locations. Listening to residents, making use of their local knowledge, and understanding their priorities and health needs is vital if the CCG want to make a success of both Thornbury and Frenchay.”
Cllr Shirley Holloway, who chairs the Friends of Thornbury Hospital, said: “It is extremely frustrating that progress towards securing a new Hospital and Health Centre has recently been delayed yet again! The Conservatives have given us warm words and visits by ministers, but no real progress. In many ways it feels like we are back to Square 1. However, these stakeholder groups would be a step in the right direction in ensuring that we get the right health facilities at Thornbury at long last.”
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South Gloucestershire’s ruling Conservative group have rejected a motion by the opposition Liberal Democrats, calling for an end to planned severe cuts to the local NHS.
Lib Dem Deputy Leader, Cllr Claire Young (Westerleigh), said: “We asked the Council to call on the Government to halt the so-called “Capped Expenditure Process,” which will see our local NHS singled out for extra NHS cuts along with 13 other areas of the country from next year. Instead, the Conservatives introduced a watered-down motion, which stops short of calling for an end to these planned cuts.
“The Conservatives say that the NHS should tighten its belt and live within its means – but the Health Service has reached a point where it can’t tighten its belt much further without vital services being lost, and it’s patients who will suffer as a result.”
Lib Dem Councillor Linda Boon (Chipping Sodbury) described to the Council her recent experience of cutbacks in the NHS. After waiting months for a cataract operation, she was told that she was no longer eligible, because NHS policy had changed – meaning she will now have to wait until she is almost blind in the affected eye before she will be able to have the surgery.
Claire concluded: “We are hearing of more and more cases like Linda’s. It is not fair of the Conservatives to pass the buck to local NHS managers to make these sorts of cuts. The decision not to invest more in the local NHS is, ultimately, a political choice and it’s Conservative MPs who must be held responsible for that. The Lib Dems believe that income tax should be raised by a penny on the pound to ensure that the NHS has the extra funding it so desperately needs.”