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Concerns raised about overnight closure of Peterhead’s minor injuries unit

By Kyle Ritchie

A group of doctors in Peterhead have expressed serious concerns about the decision by the local Integrated Joint Board (IJB) to close the town’s minor injuries unit overnight later this year.

Representatives of the local medical community met with Councillor Seamus Logan, a SNP candidate for Westminster and member of the IJB who spoke out against the cuts.

Several GPs and others stated that they were totally opposed to the decision which they said could lead to premature deaths.

Concerns have been raised about the decision to close the Minor Injuries Unit at Peterhead.
Concerns have been raised about the decision to close the Minor Injuries Unit at Peterhead.

Other local politicians including MSP Karen Adam have expressed similar concerns.

The GPs stated that they had not been consulted in any way prior to the decision, that it would inevitably create further pressure on their already overstretched general practice and that some people would inevitably decide to go to the Aberdeen Royal Infirmary during the night rather than wait on a response from the out of hours services.

Commenting after the meeting, Councillor Seamus Logan said: “It is almost beyond belief that these doctors were not consulted, they are also utterly bewildered as to why there has been no consultation with the Scottish Ambulance Service.

“They told me that the local unit is a ‘minor injuries unit’ in name only and provides a vital service as a walk-in emergency service to the local community.

“I am convinced that it is not overstating the case to say that this closure could lead to deaths in some instances if patients who attend with serious symptoms are not offered immediate attention by the nurses who work overnight in these units.

“I have personal experience of the 111 service and am aware of the very high call abandonment rate to that service.

“It simply isn’t good enough to expect other services to pick up cases previously seen at these units.

“These doctors told me there is no other part of Scotland where two major centres of population (Peterhead and Fraserburgh) are being left without any kind of locally accessible overnight emergency service.”

Councillor Logan also drew attention to proposed changes to out of hours medical cover provided by GMED which he understood could mean that there will be no out of hours doctor based in either Fraserburgh or Peterhead.

He also referenced the supporting role that the units provide to Police Scotland out of hours.

He added: “I worked most of my life in health and social care and the absence of even internal consultation is completely at odds with my experience of how management decisions are taken.

“I’m calling for an immediate suspension of this decision to allow for proper consultation and a review of all the relevant services that are involved.

“This is essential especially in light of the additional funding provided to Aberdeenshire Council in February by the Scottish Government.

“This funding is currently being kept in reserve by the council and it could be deployed to avoid this essential service being cut in this manner.”

Dr Graham Strachan, medical director of Peterhead Hospital said: “The MIU is a ‘safe haven’ for the people of Peterhead, especially the elderly and socially disadvantaged.

“It provides a much greater role than that described in the IJB document and is staffed by nurses highly skilled in resuscitation and in stabilising seriously unwell patients.

“These sick patients have been omitted from the figures presented to the IJB and on which they have based their decision.

“We believe that the overnight closure and loss of the GMED service is highly dangerous and will result in excess fatalities.”

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