AN APPEAL has been launched to reopen the Dawlish minor injuries unit - more than five years since it was last operational.
The hospital’s Friends group has begun a campaign to compile evidence that the unit, which should be used to treat minor injuries such as cuts, sprains and burns, is essential for the town and surrounding area.
Chairman of Friends Geoff King says the situation is a ‘disgrace’ and they are aiming to bring political pressure on local NHS bosses.
He explained: ‘The original aim of the MIU was to provide an alternative to A&E and reduce waiting times.
‘We and other organisations have been pressing the NHS trust for its return.
‘But all we have received is excuses and false promises.
‘We have lost faith in the local trust and are engaging political pressure.’
MP Anne Marie Morris has agreed to present evidence to Health Secretary Steve Barclay to justify the re-opening of the unit as soon as possible.
And the campaign has the backing of Dawlish and Teignmouth town councils.
Mr King continued: ‘Our MP has asked for evidence that the community has missed the service.
‘So we are asking the people of Dawlish and Teignmouth to come forward if they have been affected by being unable to use the MIU.
‘We would like to know if anyone has been to the MIU and it has been shut which had meant they have had to go to Newton Abbot or to Torbay accident and emergency department.
‘We need evidence to show it is needed in Dawlish.
‘There are plenty of MIUs which run perfectly in other parts of the country but Dawlish has not had one for more than five years.’
Dawlish and Teignmouth town councils are backing the campaign.
Once the evidence is gathered, the Friends will use this to lobby health commissioners.
A spokesman for the Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust, said: ‘The minor injuries unit at Dawlish Community Hospital closed due to staffing levels, and recruiting to this area has been challenging for the trust.
‘We are recruiting and If this process is successful, then we hope to be in a position to update the public on possible next steps in near future.
‘In the meantime, we are continuing to providing greater capacity at the urgent treatment centre in Newton Abbot Community Hospital and we thank the local community for their patience.
The hospital currently has 16 inpatient beds, all of which are usually fully occupied.
It also provides facilities for outpatient clinics, podiatry, maternity services and physiotherapy.
In July, the Gazette reported the case of a 73-year-old woman who had suffered a bad cut to her arm in a fall.
On being told Dawlish Hospital had no facility to treat her, she was advised to take a bus to Newton Abbot Hospital’s Urgent Treatment Centre.
But when a friend came to her aid and drove her there, that too was closed and she had to go to Torbay accident and emergency where she waited six hours to be seen.
The Friends are asking for people to share their experiences of the Dawlish MIU.