‘PLEASE support our MIU and our hospital, we need it in our town.’

Those are the words of Ceri Joyce, vice chairman of The Friends of Burnham-on-Sea Hospital, who is urging people to show their support for Burnham’s minor injuries unit (MIU) after it was announced it could be closed down and replaced with an ‘urgent treatment centre.’

Last week Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group (Somerset CCG) revealed that seven MIUs, including Burnham, are under threat of closure.

The government is seeking to roll out urgent treatment centres across the country – larger hubs which are 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 in the years ahead.

Ceri said she has fears GP surgeries will not be able to cope with a rise in holidaymakers in the town over the summer months if the MIU closes and appealed to the public to support the town’s MIU.

“We really need to show a united front to the powers that be and show just how important our local hospital is to our elderly and the local community,” Ceri said.

“In the summer months around 20,000 holiday makers coming into Burnham - how will we cope if the MIU closes?

“I have had lots of people chat to me and say, ‘I can’t believe the hospital is closing’. It’s not, its the MIU that could close.

“People need to be reassured that clinics will continue and that services are still available. Please support our MIU and our hospital, we need it in our town.”

Ceri said GP surgeries in Burnham and surrounding areas are ‘at their limit’ and called for more action to be taken to recruit GP’s in Somerset.

“GP surgeries are already at capacity, people living in Burnham are having to wait weeks to get appointments and there is no sign that it is going to get any better,” Ceri said.

“I don’t really feel that the CCG has put enough work into addressing the shortage of GP’s. How can they possibly hope to roll out urgent treatment centres when it appears impossible to recruit staff, run three relatively small doctors surgeries in Burnham, Berrow and Highbridge and fully staff our MIU.

“I think the Government needs to be held to account. The NHS is at breaking point, it needs more funding.

“There is a drop in session at the hospital on February 18 from 2pm to 4pm. It would be great if you could show support by attending one or both of these sessions, this is your hospital, and unless we make our feelings known we are lost.”

A spokesperson for Somerset CCG said no decisions have been made about the future of the MIUs and they do not have any preferred options in terms of how services will be provided in the future.

“We know that people will have very real concerns about the future of their local community hospitals and minor injuries units,” the spokesperson said.

“That is why we are running our engagement programme, to share our early thinking about improvements to community health and care services and give people the opportunity to join us in thinking about and shaping our future services.

“In terms of process, this is engagement at this stage, not consultation.”

The consultation is open until Sunday, April 12, and can be filled in by going to fitformyfuture.org.uk.

Printed copies of the consultation will be available at GP surgeries, libraries and pharmacies or by calling 01935 384119 or emailing somccg.fitformyfuture@nhs.net.