RESIDENTS needing to visit Barry Hospital’s Minor Injuries Unit (MIU) could face major disruption if proposals to close it during the NATO summit go ahead.
Cardiff and Vale University Health Board said it was planning to set up a temporary triage and treat service in the centre of Cardiff as part of plans to support the two-day event in Newport in September.
Plans could mean drafting in staff from other health board facilities – including Barry Hospital.
Barry resident Jeff Heathfield, who in 2012 campaigned for the MIU to be open for longer hours, branded the proposal a “massive overreaction” and Vale MP Alun Cairns called the decision “illogical, and very serious”.
Thousands of people are expected to visit the region as part of the summit and associated events.
UHB’s director of planning, Abigail Harris said the main aim was to deliver as much of “normal service” as possible and, at the University Hospital of Wales, essential services, including all clinically urgent, cancers and other speciality specific cases – outpatient, diagnostics and elective services would continue as normal.
She said the temporary triage and treat service would provide support for police and ambulance services during the summit and ensure the impact on services for local people was minimised.
Safely staffing the centre, she said, would mean looking at options of sharing staff with neighbouring health boards or drafting staff from other parts of the UHB.
Mrs Harris said: “This could mean that we have to temporarily close the Minor Injury Unit at Barry Hospital. If this is the case then we would look at what other support we can offer and make sure we share those updates with local partners and the public as soon as possible.
“If this does happen it would only be a temporary measure but we know how important the service is to the people of Barry and that is why we are exploring all options to avoid having to do that.”
Resident Jeff Heathfield said Barry Hospital was the medical hub of the community and needed to be treated this way.
He said: “To temporarily shut the hospital because of the NATO conference in Newport is a massive over reaction. The consequences for the Vale community could be unthinkable. If the Barry and Vale community can’t be seen at the Barry hospital at this time, what chances have they got of getting to Cardiff?
“If anything Barry Hospital should be getting medics bought in, not for the people to be shipped out.”
Vale MP Alun Cairns said he had objected to the proposed temporary closure citing concerns about the significant impact and disruption to Barry residents who could have to travel much greater distances for treatment and assessments and be held up in the congestion in Cardiff.
He said: “I simply cannot understand the logic of closing the Minor Injuries Unit in Barry, effectively forcing local residents from the Vale to travel into Cardiff where the pressure on services will be heightened during the NATO summit.
“I am told that the reason for closure is to provide extra cover in Cardiff. Surely, it would be better to keep Barry MIU open as normal, and extend the unit to residents from the west Cardiff – thus reducing congestion in Cardiff.
“We need all of the stakeholders managing health provision to re-think this decision and ensure that the communities in Barry and the Vale do not needlessly lose access to vital health services. The NATO summit is a wonderful opportunity for the Vale, but it is important that the local health board maintains services locally.”
For details, visit NATO summit pages on the Gov.uk website.