Delight at re-opened Sidmouth MIU marred by disappointment

MIU room at Sidmouth Victoria Hospital. Ref shs 7706-40-14SH Picture: Simon Horn

MIU room at Sidmouth Victoria Hospital. Ref shs 7706-40-14SH Picture: Simon Horn - Credit: Archant

Health bosses say medical centre will be able to provide a ‘more resilient’ service

Delight at the reopening of Sidmouth’s Minor Injuries Unit (MIU) has been marred by disappointment that it will no longer be located in the town’s hospital.

The Herald revealed last week that the Sid Valley Medical Practice has stepped up to run the facility at its Stowford Rise site for 12 months - fulfilling an important need after services were temporarily suspended in November last year.

Staffing difficulties faced by the Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust (NDHT) and an over-reliance on agency were blamed for the prolonged closure of the MIU and health bosses say the Beacon Medical Centre (Strowford) is able to provide extra support and the resilience needed.

The news came as bittersweet victory for Sidmouth Victoria Hospital Comforts Fund, which fought to keep the MIU for the town and completely renovated the facility just two years ago as part of an overall £4.5million investment.

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Chairman of the fund Graham Vincent said: “It is wonderful to have our MIU back, although it is not ideally sited and the trustees of the comforts fund are very disappointed that it isn’t housed at the hospital.

“Sidmouth Hospital is truly a town hospital provided by the town, maintained and extended by the town.

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“We really must continually have a voice in the future to maintaining, running and securing the building for the local community.”

He thanked trustees, as well as representatives Di Fuller and Councillor Stuart Hughes, for fighting successfully to maintain an MIU in Sidmouth after the NHS Northern, Eastern and Western Devon Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) earmarked it for closure.

In a letter to stakeholders, the CCG said: “The CCG has developed a more bespoke model [of urgent care provision] linking more closely with GP practices to continue to provide a reliable MIU

“We are pleased that we now have agreement that the service will move to the Beacon Medical Centre until a longer-term solution can be found. The transfer of the service to the surgery is hoped to provide some more resilience.”

A CCG spokeswoman was unable to give any indication on whether the MIU will be relocated back to the hospital in the future.

The chair of the Sid Valley Patient Participation group, Di Fuller, agreed that it was good news Sidmouth’s MIU was reinstated, but expressed disappointment that it would not be located in the town centre, which particularly met the summer tourist season need.

She added that it was vital patients were given clear information about where they could go for different services and when.

Sidmouth’s MIU will be provided between 8am and 6pm, Monday to Friday.

Practice manager Kate Thomas said: “We are delighted to be serving the residents of Sidmouth and the whole Sid Valley. We have accepted the need for an MIU for people in the town and would like to support this.”

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