Public meetings next month on MIU axe plans

NHS bosses schedule single in-person event plus two online talks

HEALTH bosses are to hold just one in-person event to talk to locals about their plans to axe hospital units in Bangor and Newtownards.
Held in Ards Blair Mayne Leisure Centre 11 days from now, the event is to give the public a chance to make their views clear on proposals to shut down Minor Injuries Units (MIUs) in two hospitals.
It will be followed up by two online meetings, one at the end of March and the other in the first week of April.
NHS officials say the public meetings will offer the public a chance ‘to hear more about the proposed changes’ and ‘provide feedback’.
The in-person event takes place on March 6, starting at 7pm; the online events take place on March 30 at 7pm and on April 4 at 1.30pm.
All of the events will last for a maximum of two hours.
They’re part of an ongoing public consultation on axing the two MIUs that was launched a fortnight ago.
The South Eastern Health Trust wants to open a new Urgent Care Centre in Dundonald’s Ulster Hospital, but officials say they need to shut the two MIUs in order to do it.
Urgent Care Centres handle the same kinds of injuries as MIUs, but also offer treatment for broken bones, mental health problems, some forms of stomach complaints, and coughs, colds and breathing problems.
Some Urgent Care Centres also have facilities for blood tests and x-rays, and are held by the NHS to take pressure off busy hospital accident and emergency wards.
Senior trust officials state that ‘change is required’, and having the new care centre in Dundonald ‘would give easy access to medical assessment and clinical investigations’ as well as boasting longer opening hours than Ards MIU currently has.
Some politicians have hit out at the plans, however, stating that the additional travel time to Dundonald, especially for the 61,000 people who live in Bangor, would make reaching help more difficult.
Local representatives also worried about the impact of so many extra patients on the Ulster Hospital, where staff are already under pressure, while patients and relatives complain of difficulty reaching the facility through heavy traffic and struggles getting parked.
A petition to save the two MIUs started by North Down MLA Alex Easton has pulled more than 7,000 signatures in the week-and-a-half since it was set up.
Bangor MIU was closed when Covid hit; at the time officials said that was a temporary measure, but it has never reopened.
Ards MIU runs from 9am to 5pm every weekday, but is closed evenings and weekends.