For the first known time, leaders of all five political parties locally have come together to call for a vigil to mark the closure of the Minor Injuries Unit in Driffield on Tuesday.
Local officers of the Conservatives, Greens, Labour, Liberal Democrats and Yorkshire Party are asking the local community to stand vigil for half an hour before and after the MIU at Alfred Bean Hospital closes on Tuesday at 6 o’clock.
“We want to thank the staff of the MIU, past and present for their skill and dedication in looking after people, providing diagnosis and treatment where possible, and referring on where necessary.” says Gill Walls of the Yorkshire Party. If a child, a sports player or an elderly resident has a bad fall, early diagnosis and treatment are hugely important and the MIU staff played a vital role in providing reassurance in this area. The local community put up a strong fight to resist the closure through campaigns, petitions and demonstrations. The written expressions of concerns ran to over 8,000 pages in the official consultation, but were effectively ignored by the Clinical Commissioning Group.”
Secondly, the four parties wish to express their fears that the replacement 8 to 8 service has been designed to fail. “The concept of an urgent treatment service which can only be accessed by telephoning NHS 111 for an appointment is a contradiction in terms”, says Dr Mike Jackson of the Green Party. “People with transport won’t wait for an appointment. They will add to the queues at Hull or Scarborough Accident and Emergency in order to get triage assessments. Then the CCG will close the 8 to 8 service in Driffield because it isn’t being used, putting the Alfred Bean Hospital at greater risk for its future”.
Third, the parties are concerned at the continued reduction in health service facilities as Driffield, Nafferton and surrounding areas begin to experience major population expansion. “It does not make sense to increase pressures on hospital services in Hull, particularly as ambulance availability and rural public transport are being so heavily cut back”, complains Cllr Denis Healy of the Liberal Democrats.
Finally, it seems that local experiences with East Yorkshire Clinical Commissioning Group as remote, arrogant and unaccountable is being reproduced in many other parts of the country. “The whole concept of ‘commissioning’ is based around bringing the market into the NHS and encouraging privatisation of public services”, complains Daniel Vulliamy of the Labour Party. “Some of us are afraid that this is what the CCGs were designed to do from the start. We are also worried by the extent of the declared interests of CCG board members in private health care.
“The political parties often disagree on both local and national issues, commented Mike Stathers Chair of East Yorkshire Constituency Conservative Party. “But there is a strong consensus of appreciation for the MIU and concern for the future of Alfred Bean Hospital. The local community has spoken with a strong clear voice on this issue, but was disregarded by the Clinical Commissioning Group. There is real concern for the future of health care in the local area”.
Driffield Town Council which co-ordinated the original campaign in defence of the Minor Injuries Unit is giving its full backing to the vigil, with councillors being urged to attend the vigil if possible.
The vigil will take place from 5.30 – 6.30pm outside the Alfred Bean Hospital on Bridlington Road, Driffield on Tuesday April 3rd. There are plans to plant a rose bush in appreciation of the Minor Injuries Unit.
The four parties are inviting supporters to carry posters advertising the Vigil in their windows. They will run a stall with petitions on Driffield Market Place on Saturday. For copies of the petition and window posters, or for further information, contact Daniel Vulliamy on firstname.lastname@example.org or 01262 481338 or 07840509835.