Hospital unit is safe for a year

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DOCTORS have secured the future of Rutland Memorial Hospital’s minor injuries unit for at least a year.

Oakham Medical Practice, which is next to the hospital in Cold Overton Road, will take over the management of the unit from NHS Leicestershire County and Rutland on April 1 for a year.

Practice director at Oakham Medical Practice Don McGeorge said: “This move will secure the future of the minor injuries unit for 12 months which is obviously good news for patients.

“There will be no immediate changes for patients but we will be looking at various ways of utilising the space with a view to making improvements.”

Mr McGeorge said it was too early to say what improvements or changes were likely to be made to the unit during the year.

It will continue to open from 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday for now. The unit was open until 9pm during the week until December but the hours were cut back “temporarily” by NHS Leicestershire County and Rutland.

Weekend and bank holiday services will still be operated by NHS Leicestershire County and Rutland’s out-of-hours GP service.

Medical centres in Market Harborough and Melton Mowbray will also be taking over the running of their minor injury units. Market

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Harborough operates a Monday to Sunday, 9am to 5pm, minor injury service, while Melton Mowbray provides a minor injury service from 9.30am to 1.30pm on weekends and bank holidays.

From April next year minor injury care is expected to be taken over by a consortium of GPs from Rutland, Melton Mowbray, Oadby, Wigston, Blaby, Lutterworth and Market Harborough. It is likely to include doctors from Oakham Medical Practice, Uppingham Surgery, Empingham Medical Centre and Market Overton Surgery.

Rutland Local Involvement Network chairman Rosemarie Whittaker said the group, which helps patients to have their say on health issues, would continue calling for local services to be retained.

She said: “It looks as if our minor injuries unit is safe for now but into the future its fate will be in the hands of a completely new organisation – a consortium of GP practices covering not just Rutland but a large area of Leicestershire.

“Rutland GPs don’t have a great track record of consulting local people before they make changes and we will be doing everything we can to make sure that the new decision makers understand how much we value the minor injuries unit at Rutland Memorial Hospital.”

The Government is scrapping primary care trusts. The trusts have to hand over responsibility for community health services to GP consortia by April and will be abolished by 2013.

NHS Leicestershire County and Rutland’s deputy director of primary care Dominic Cox said: “The practices are keen to retain services locally and although it’s initially a short-term arrangement, they will look at how they can integrate better with the minor injury units for the benefit of patients.

“This will include a review of whether normal opening times can be resumed.”