Community Hospitals

Part of Petition - Chicken Farm, Rushden, Northamptonshire – in the House of Commons at 8:29 pm on 12th March 2019.

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Photo of Fiona Bruce Fiona Bruce Conservative, Congleton 8:29 pm, 12th March 2019

I was pleased to note that on announcing his long-term plan for the NHS, the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care said he is a strong supporter of community hospitals, so I am today asking if Health Ministers will kindly look into how some of the additional resources announced with the long-term plan can be earmarked for the community care provided by community hospitals, such as the much loved Congleton War Memorial Hospital in my constituency.

Congleton Hospital needs sufficient resources to ensure that it can continue to provide the all-round services it has already provided for several generations of my constituents for generations to come. The hospital is much valued locally, providing a range of services, such as the minor injuries unit, which saves residents travelling some distance to hospitals further afield with A&E facilities. Minor injuries such as burns, cuts, splinters and sprains can be treated quickly and efficiently at Congleton. As one person, who sustained a hand injury, told me:

“I popped down to Congleton Hospital, the wound was treated straight away and I was back at work within the hour.”

That person would have lost at least half a day’s work travelling for treatment elsewhere.

In recent winters, the minor injuries unit has, on occasion, been closed temporarily by East Cheshire NHS Trust, with staff redeployed to Macclesfield’s A&E. Then, in September 2018, the trust stated that it expected closures to be in place throughout weekends and bank holidays, plus ad hoc weekdays, throughout this winter. As a result, the minor injuries unit is currently scheduled to open only between 9 am and 5 pm from Monday to Friday, but with additional ad hoc closures within these hours. It was not open, for example, when I visited last Friday afternoon.

It is therefore not surprising that some people in need of urgent treatment decide not to risk calling at a unit that may be closed unpredictably, with user numbers no doubt affected accordingly. It is also understandable that these closures are causing grave concern among local people. On their behalf, I am calling on Ministers to ensure, please, that resources are put in place so that valuable community hospital facilities such as Congleton Hospital’s minor injuries unit are not only stabilised but strengthened.