BRIDGWATER and West Somerset's MP has called on constituents to campaign to save the minor injury units (MIUs) at Minehead and Bridgwater's Hospitals from closure.

Conservative MP Ian Liddell-Grainger commented after it emerged that some of the seven MIUs in Somerset could be under threat as a result of proposed changes to the way services are delivered.

The Government wants to move to a system of larger urgent treatment centres, run and staffed by GPs, with longer opening hours and a wider range of services.

But Somerset cannot afford to replace all its MIUs with these centres – meaning some of them may close, while some of the community hospitals which house the existing MIUs will also need “significant investment” if they are to remain functional.

The Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group says urgent treatment centres “provide a greater range of services and a higher level of care than current minor injury units”.

They would be open for at least 12 hours a day, seven days a week, with patients being able to book appointments in advance if they wished.

But Mr Liddell-Grainger said the group’s assertions ‘carried a distinct whiff of bad news being dressed up as good’.

“Concentrating these services on fewer centres is inevitably going to make them busier and increase waiting times for patients,” he said.

“It’s also going to mean that patients will face longer journey times for treatment – a particular worry for people in West Somerset where we have one of the highest proportions of elderly of any comparable area in the country and where bus companies make no attempt to match supply to need.”

Mr Liddell-Grainger called for his constituents, particularly in West Somerset, to lodge vigorous objections to any change.

“The Government absolutely must provide the funding to ensure that there is no diminution the number of local treatment centres in Somerset, irrespective of what title it chooses to give them,” he said.

“There have been repeated threats to services at the new Minehead hospital since it was built and local people are quite justified in feeling they are not getting a fair deal from the health service.

“I shall give them whatever support I can to ensure that they are not once again left out in a limb as a result of yet another reorganisation.”