Friends of Swanage Hospital ‘appalled’ at weekend closure of minor injuries unit

The friends group that supports and fundraises for Swanage Hospital says it’s “concerned and disappointed” that the minor injuries unit (MIU) has been closed over the weekend of Saturday 16th and Sunday 17th July 2022.

Dorset Healthcare University NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the hospital, announced it was temporarily closing the minor injuries unit, “due to Covid-related staff absence”.

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Swanage Hospital closure notice
Swanage Hospital

Swanage Hospital in Queen’s Road

Argue the case for keeping the MIU open

Friends of Swanage Hospital says that it immediately took action on hearing the news to argue the case for keeping the MIU open and formulating a more acceptable plan of action over the busy summer weekend. In a statement they said:

“We are pleased that the deep anxieties we raised were considered in the dialogue, but the decision to close Swanage MIU was not overturned as we had hoped – and will be closed. We are obviously very concerned and disappointed.”

Parasols on Swanage Beach

Swanage Main Beach on a hot day

Swanage’s population increases to around 50,000 over the summer

As a seaside town Swanage’s population swells in the summer from around 10,000 to 50,000. However the provision of facilities and infrastructure is usually based on the local population numbers not the temporary summer population.

Purbeck is an attractive but remote place to visit, with the town of Swanage at the end of a peninsula.

In the statement the friends point out:

“…Bear in mind that Swanage’s unique geographical problems are aggravated by one of the two access roads being under extensive repairs at various places at the moment, adding to the heavy traffic congestion. This is bound to create serious problems for anyone seeking urgent medical help – by car, bus or ambulance.”

Friends of Swanage Hospital with Swanage Mayor

Friends of Swanage Hospital committee in 2021 marked its £1m investment into facilities at Swanage Hospital

“We will do all we can to ensure that it doesn’t happen again”

While it’s appreciated that there are NHS staffing issues across Dorset, the Friends of Swanage Hospital argue that cutting the weekend operation of the MIU at Swanage is not the answer. They conclude:

“We should stress that we feel that it is unacceptable that Swanage MIU is closed this weekend and we will do all we can to ensure that it doesn’t happen again.

“We are arranging an urgent meeting of the Friends of Swanage Hospital Committee this coming week to discuss this and work out a plan of action should it become necessary.”

Dorset Healthcare has been approached for its response but has not yet responded.

The ward at Swanage Hospital viewed from the garden

Swanage Hospital is well supported by the community and the Stanley Purser ward at the hospital has been nominated by Swanage Carnival as its main charity for this year

Full statement by Friends of Swanage Hospital committee

“Yesterday afternoon the Friends of Swanage Hospital were advised by Dorset Healthcare University Trust (DHUFT) that the Minor Injuries Unit at Swanage Hospital will be closed this weekend, Saturday 16th and Sunday 17th July.

“DHUFT and South Western Ambulance Service Trust (SWAST) explained this is due to extreme staff shortages, (partly due to Covid-related illnesses) both within DHUFT minor injuries’ units and SWAST. Anyone needing medical services, will have to phone 111 and not attend Swanage MIU.

“Friends of Swanage Hospital were appalled by this decision and immediately took action to try and get our voices heard. A dialogue was developed with DHUFT members both yesterday and today, stressing why we felt Swanage MIU needs to be open on this busy summer weekend.

“This is also exacerbated by the extreme heat weather warning coming during the next four days. It is probable that we will get many more extra visitors escaping the heat to visit our beaches, open spaces and tourist attractions, as well as our own local families and residents of our community.

“We are pleased that the deep anxieties we raised were considered in the dialogue, but the decision to close Swanage MIU was not overturned as we had hoped – and will be closed. We are obviously very concerned and disappointed.

“Many of you may have seen yesterday’s (Friday 15th July) extensive coverage on the national TV news programmes, including BBC South Today regarding the crisis point that the acute hospitals A and E departments (including Bournemouth Hospital) are finding themselves in, with ambulances queuing up with their patients outside waiting for hours to be seen. They did not include the closure of Swanage MIU.

“Also bear in mind that Swanage’s unique geographical problems are aggravated by one of the two access roads being under extensive repairs at various places at the moment, adding to the heavy traffic congestion. This is bound to create serious problems for anyone seeking urgent medical help – by car, bus or ambulance.

“We should stress that we feel that it is unacceptable that Swanage MIU is closed this weekend and we will do all we can to ensure that it doesn’t happen again. We are arranging an urgent meeting of the Friends of Swanage Hospital Committee this coming week to discuss this and work out a plan of action should it become necessary.”

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