Trust proposing permanent closure of hospital unit

Whiteabbey Hospital Minor Injuries Unit.
Whiteabbey Hospital Minor Injuries Unit.

The Northern Health Trust has launched a period of public consultation on the future of the Minor Injuries Unit (MIU) at Whiteabbey Hospital.

The unit, which opened in the wake of the Trust axing full Accident and Emergency services at the hospital in 2010, was closed “temporarily” in December last year as part of a programme of cost-saving measures.

The Trust has now confirmed that it is proposing to permanently close the nurse-led facility, which provided treatment for around 200 patients each week.

“The unit has been temporarily closed since 1st December 2014, as part of contingency measures required by the Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety to achieve financial breakeven by 31st March 2015,” a spokesperson for the Trust explained.

“Prior to its temporary closure there were 200 minor injury attendances per week at Whiteabbey. The Trust has reviewed the impact of the temporary closure and has identified minimal impact on services provided in other Emergency Departments.

“Minor Injuries has played a part in the overall provision of services provided at Whiteabbey Hospital and other services continue to be provided there including diagnostics, out-patients, day surgery and in-patient rehabilitation services.”

The consultation period will run until December 4, 2015 and the Trust is keen to hear the views of local people who may be impacted by its proposal to permanently shut the Doagh Road facility.

Commenting on the Trust’s plan, North Belfast MLA Paula Bradley said: “They have been slowly eroding away services at Whiteabbey for years, so this proposal comes as no surprise.

“The main A&E departments at Antrim Area Hospital and the Belfast hospitals are under severe pressure, and if this unit could help relieve some of that pressure then I think it’s important that the Trust looks to see if it is viable to reopen it.”

Urging people to take part in the consultation, the DUP representative added: “The Trust’s figures for usage of the Minor Injuries Unit show that it was busy and that it was being used by the local community.

“If local people feel that this is a valuable service and one that should be retained then they need to take part in the consultation process.”

A link to the consultation document can be found on the homepage of the Trust’s website - www.northerntrust.hscni.net

Alternatively the document can be made available in other formats upon request to the Equality Unit, Route Complex, 8e Coleraine Road, Ballymoney, BT53 6BP, telephone 028 2766 1377, email equality.unit@northerntrust.hscni.net