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Steve Baker accuses NHS of 'botching' launch of new hospital unit
MP Steve Baker has accused health chiefs of “botching” the launch of a new GP unit at Wycombe Hospital by “spreading a wave of panic through the town”.
About 50,000 leaflets have been sent out to alert residents to the closure of the Emergency Medical Centre – meaning more emergency patients now face a trip to Stoke Mandeville.
The leaflets also publicise the opening of a new Minor Injuries and Illness Unit [MIIU] at the Queen Alexandra Road site, but Mr Baker says they have stirred up unnecessary emotions.
In his blog today, he said many people have interpreted the leaflets to mean the hospital is losing its A&E ward – which in fact already happened in 2005.
The Conservative MP for Wycombe wrote: “This cack-handed public awareness effort has caused yet another round of alarm and despondency – entirely unnecessarily – over an issue which was aired and settled earlier this year....It is a terrible own goal by the NHS.
“It is exasperating that these publicity materials were not phrased in a less incendiary way.
"Terms like A&E and Emergency Medical Centre are jargon that may mean different things to medical professionals but not the general public. Figuring that out is not rocket science."
He added the leaflets, produced by the NHS Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Cluster, have “reopened a wound and led people to believe they are losing something important, while in reality they haven’t had it for most of a decade”.
The controversial closure of the emergency room was agreed in May and implemented this week.
It means seriously ill or injured patients should go to Stoke Mandeville or Wexham Park hospitals - except for heart attack and stroke patients, who will still be treated at Wycombe.
The MIIU is for non-emergency patients with health problems which are unsuitable for a GP appointment, and which they cannot treat themselves.
It will be run by GPs and open overnight thanks to a successful campaign initiated by the Bucks Free Press.
The NHS Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Cluster, the counties’ primary care trust [PCT], said it “does not accept that it has botched the launch of the Minor Injuries and Illness Unit”.
A spokesman added: “Throughout the extensive engagement and consultation process the public repeatedly told the PCT that it wanted it to be open and transparent and to communicate clearly what this means for both the existing and the new services.
“This is what we have done. We would not want to do anything that would preserve or create an expectation that seriously ill or injured patients can be safely managed within the MIIU.”
See related links for Mr Baker's full blog.