Val Compton on the future of the Minor Injuries Unit

Written by Val Compton on .

Dear Sirs

I have been alerted to the news that Clover Centre in Great Western Hospital (GWH) is no longer treating minor injuries but patients now need to attend Carfax Street in Swindon, wherever that may be. 

It is, apparently, a health centre with very little available parking, somewhere beyond the magic roundabout and three miles on from GWH.

Not quite wanting to believe this after all our local battles to save the minor injuries unit at our own Savernake Hospital, I emailed NHS Swindon and NHS Wiltshire asking if Clover Centre was in fact continuing to treat minor injuries.

Swindon PCT stated that Clover Centre was not "referenced as treating minor injuries"  yet the NHS Wiltshire's website, still had the Clover Centre as a destination to which you could take your minor injuries. 

NHS Wiltshire replied, quoting the Friends of Savernake Hospital website -- I laughed out loud at that point -- as this was the website I originally wrote.  I pointed out that maybe she should take the information from her employer's website!

I then emailed Swindon PCT with their Annual Report 2009/10 which stated minor illnesses and injuries could be treated 24 hours per day at the Clover Centre.

So much for it "not being referenced".  Back came the response very swiftly that the person who would normally have written the report (and was indeed now dealing with my enquiries) was on leave, but realised this was no excuse.  Indeed it is not!

The Clover Centre has been treating minor injuries for around four years. 

NHS Wiltshire negotiated a good price of £44 per treatment instead of the national tariff price which was £54 I believe in 2007 -- around the time we applied for a High Court judicial review on the decision to close the minor injuries unit at Savernake. I have sometimes wondered how closely those two facts were related.

In the middle of all this confusion stands the patient with a minor injury.  I am still asked where they should go, so I like to keep up to date.  I no longer know the answer -- apart from Chippenham or Trowbridge. 

I can understand the drive GWH currently have to stop people going inappropriately to  A&E but frankly - when a huge gaping hole is left in the middle and East of Wiltshire with no minor injuries unit -- what do you do?

More importantly, how did all this come about?

Who made the decision to “close” the Clover Centre? How does this change affect the budgets of the GWH, NHS Wiltshire and NHS Swindon at a time when we are facing further chaos with the government’s ever changing NHS reforms?

And why the hell has nobody told the public that an essential service is, as far as anyone living in the Marlborough/Pewsey area, has now been moved even further away?

I am sending copies of this letter to my MP Claire Perry, to the chair and chief executive of the GWH Foundation Trust and to other involved parties in order to get a straight answer – or any answer at all would be good.

Val Compton,