Beccles mayor launches petition to show support for hospital
- Credit: Nick Butcher
A petition has been launched to gather support for two major services at Beccles Hospital after speculation about their future.
Beccles mayor Graham Catchpole started the petition after hearing that both the minor injuries unit (MIU) and the phlebotomy department at the hospital might be closed.
However Andy Evans, chief executive of Great Yarmouth and Waveney Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), known locally as HealthEast, which commissions both the hospital and the MIU, said both services will continue, although there could be changes to the way they are run.
Mr Catchpole launched the petition on Tuesday and has already collected almost 1,000 signatures. He said he was 'extremely concerned' about any changes, particularly with the large number of elderly people living in Beccles, who rely on the services.
He said: 'The petition is putting pressure on them before they make any changes and it shows the strength of feeling in the town.'
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'Having been told what I was told from some very reliable sources I wasn't prepared to sit back and wait for them to make a decision.
'We have to stand up for our local services and it is important that new people keep signing the petition, which will run until September 27 and then be handed in to Andy Evans and the NHS Trust. We have to minimise the effects of any changes that take place.'
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Mr Evans said the current provider of the phlebotomy service has submitted its notice for the contract and the CCG would be looking for a new provider to take over from April 2017, with no gap in the service.
He said that there has been a national review into how urgent and emergency care is delivered, which includes changes to the national standards for MIUs.
He said: 'The criteria to be called an MIU is changing. It will have to have certain things like an x-ray machine, which Beccles doesn't have, so although it can't be called a MIU anymore there will still be a minor injuries service in Beccles.
'While that is going on we need to do a review of the way the service is working, what the hours need to be and what people think of it.
'There will still be a minor injuries service on the Beccles Hospital site and we are continually looking to see how we can use the site better.'
The opening hours of the MIU, which is managed by East Coast Community Healthcare, have been reduced from 8am to 8pm to 10am to 6pm while the review takes place.
Mr Evans said the next stage would be to engage with the public about the service. The proposed consultation is due to be discussed at a meeting of the CCG's governing body next week.
Petitions in support of the hospital are available to sign in Beccles at Seppings Butchers, Beales Department Store, Beccles and Bungay Journal office, Town Hall, Beccles Library, Roys, Conservative Club, Country Cards, Waveney Centre and Beccles Bowls Club. You can also sign the petition online by visiting the About Beccles Facebook page and following the link.
The online petition has already attracted over 700 signatures, with one supporter posting: 'It is a vital service for a rural community and to close it would only add to the pressure on the James Paget Hospital and clutter it up with minor injuries.'
Another said: 'The services provided at Beccles are outstanding and a vital need.'
•What do you think? Write to Beccles and Bungay Journal Letters, 20 Blyburgate, Beccles, NR34 9TB or email firstname.lastname@example.org