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Town needs MIU to reopen at hospital

THE minor injuries unit at Stratford Hospital is set to remain closed this winter with no date yet set for when it will reopen.

When contacted by the Herald, South Warwickshire NHS Foundation Trust re-stated that the unit will stay closed while resources are focussed on dealing with Covid-19 and caring for patients where most needed.

The MIU closed in April 2020 when the pandemic saw the need for medical resources to be redeployed for the care of Covid patients at Warwick Hospital. There had been hope that the unit would be open again by now as the number of Covid patients needing hospital care started to fall – then Omicron began to spread. On 8th February, according to government date, SWFT was caring for 23 Covid patients, including one on a ventilator. That’s well below the peak number, which hit the high 70s during spring 2020.

The trust this week re-issued a statement from last October, parts of which read: “Over the last 18 months coronavirus has had a huge impact on all aspects of healthcare and in response to managing the pandemic healthcare providers have had to make difficult operational decisions. As a result of this, South Warwickshire NHS Foundation Trust and Coventry and Warwickshire Clinical Commissioning Group temporarily closed the minor injuries unit at Stratford Hospital to ensure staff could care for patients where they were most needed.

“To support the organisation during this period the trust has developed a robust winter plan and an integral part of this plan is making sure we have the staff available to care for people in the right place at the right time. Re-opening the minor injuries unit might seem like a good solution to managing the increased demand but staffing this specialist unit is not straight forward.

“To run a minor injuries unit a mix of clinical skills is needed, which would require us to re-deploy staff from our main urgent care site at Warwick Hospital. To operate safely throughout winter we need to continue having the right staff available to work in this critical area which means we are not currently in a position to re-deploy the staff needed to re-open the minor injuries unit at the moment.

“The trust recognises how much the community value the minor injuries unit and we will continue to work with clinical and operational teams to identify the best options for re-opening in a safe and sustainable way.”

There is concern in Stratford that the unit may not re-open – especially as Stratford Hospital is already part of a wider review which will determine if the building will retain patient beds. This is against a backdrop of continued population growth and ambitions to build back the tourism economy.

Stratford district councillor Gill Cleeve said: “Hopefully the long-term plan is to re-open – we absolutely must have an MIU. It takes the pressures off Warwick Hospital and with more homes being built we could have an increase in population of 2,000-plus people. With visitor numbers up this year, we need to focus on having a minor injuries unit for residents as well as visitors to the town.”

Fellow district councillor Jenny Fradgley added: “Stratford is a growing town, nearby towns and villages are growing rapidly. One of the essential services for our hospital must be an MIU. Our roads are increasingly crowded; it is not reasonable to make people with minor injuries crowd into Warwick which has its own population to serve.

“The site allocation plan indicates a further significant increase in the local population so our hospital will need to be a centre to serve more and more people.”

MIU campaigner and Stratford resident Cyril Bennis told the Herald: “It’s excuse after excuse after excuse and there’s been no conclusive decision by the health authority for months now since I’ve been asking about the injuries unit.

“I am very concerned that we will never see our MIU open in Stratford again.”

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