New NHS minor injuries info booklet is “as clear as mud” protests Tory MP Claire Perry
As clear as mud – that was the blunt comment today from Marlborough MP Claire Perry on a 12-page multi-coloured NHS Swindon booklet delivered throughout the town and headed “NOT an emergency?”.
It purports to tell residents where to go directly for treatment following the demise of the Savernake Hospital’s minor injuries unit and, on its back page, declares: "When it is anemergency" – the last two words without a space between them.
And it appeared inappropriately as Health Secretary of State Andrew Lansley issued a list of 60 new goals to hospitals designed to save more than 20,000 lives a year through improved quality care for patients.
“Having read the relevant instructions in the leaflet, I think they are as clear as mud,” protested Mrs Perry. “The advice now goes something like this…
“Treatment for non-urgent cases (what are they?) will now take place in the Carfax NHS medical centre in Swindon (where?) but as this has no X-ray facilities and very limited parking please go to the Clover Centre at the Great Western Hospital if you are an urgent case or think you have broken something – and you have to be the judge of that.”
And she added: “The sooner we get our doctors commissioning local services for local people the better.”
The booklet, which compares in no way with the defined minor injury unit treatment available to Marlborough residents on a 24-hour, seven days a week basis, issued four years ago, dumbfounded Savernake campaigner Val Compton (pictured).
“I am horrified that NHS Swindon think they can send out a booklet to Wiltshire patients with no liasion taking place and filled with wrong information,” she told Marlborough News Online.
She complained that the leaflet was causing considerable confusion in the treatment of “non-urgent minor injuries”, which is no longer be available at Clover Centre, based in Great Western Hospital (GWH).
The information, clearly stated in a jokey “Mister Men style” booklet produced by NHS Swindon and delivered by post, is “absolutely contrary” to last year’s NHS Swindon’s own annual report of 2009/10, said Mrs Compton.
“This states that the Clover centre offered ‘treatment for minor injuries and minor illnesses without an appointment, 24 hours a day and seven days a week’,” she declared.
“It is also contrary to NHS Wiltshire’s leaflet on Minor Injury Units (MIU) which states Clover Centre can be used if it is more convenient to attend there rather than Chippenham or Trowbridge MIUs.”
And she pointed out: “It would seem now, that only ‘urgent’ cases will be seen and treated in what is now called the Urgent Care Service at GWH – everyone else will be re-directed to the Carfax NHS Medical Centre or their GP.”
“The booklet fails to tell you how to find this obscure centre in Carfax Street, fails to tell you it has about three car parking spaces and also fails to tell you if you have a suspected fracture, there is no X-ray facility on the premises, which would be required for a diagnosis.”
“In my book, the withdrawal of a standard minor injury service, such as we used to receive in Savernake Hospital, is a substantive change – and that requires a public consultation to be held. Did I miss it?”
NHS Wiltshire responded: “NHS Wiltshire understands that some of the information contained in the leaflet will be confusing to people living in Marlborough and the surrounding areas.”
“As commissioner of minor injuries services for Wiltshire, NHS Wiltshire recommends that people in the SN8 postcode area should continue to use the Urgent Care Centre based at Great Western Hospital if it is more convenient for people to attend there rather than Chippenham or Trowbridge MIUs.”
“Patients who present at the Urgent Care Centre will be triaged according to their level of need; people with a suspected break or fracture, for instance, would certainly be treated there rather than at Carfax Street.”
“Indeed, the Urgent Care Centre provides direct access to X-Ray services which is an improved service to that provided previously at the Clover Centre.”
And the statement went on: “However, it’s important that patients understand how to use NHS services properly so that the Urgent Care Centre is used appropriately; we have had cases where people have turned up with broken nails, small insect bites and minor grazes, in which case patients are re-directed to their local pharmacy, GP etc.”
“People in the SN8 postcode area who require out of hours services or urgent medical advice when their GP practice is closed should continue to ring the Wiltshire out of hours number, which is 0300 111 5717. Lines are open from 6.30pm to 8am on weekdays and all day at weekends and on public and bank holidays.”
“If a medical situation is life-threatening, you should always phone 999. A medical emergency is a life-threatening situation such as serious injury, loss of consciousness, chest pain or suspected stroke. Do not hesitate in these circumstances – call the emergency services on 999.”