DAWLISH’S Minor Injuries Unit will finally reopen on April 2, it has been confirmed.

After four years of closure, mainly due to staffing problems, NHS chiefs have been able to fill vacant nursing posts and are in a position to open the unit five days a week.

Dr Liz Thomas, deputy medical director of Torbay and South Devon NHS, told town councillors that the unit will be operational within the next few weeks.

The service will be available from Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm with an appointment system which will work either by phone or a walk in service where patients can get a slot to be seen.

Dr Thomas said this model is based on the MIU system at Totnes Hospital which currently works ‘very well’.

Councillors were told it was hoped to extend the service in the future and there is to be more information from the trust over the next few weeks.

A spokesman for Dawlish Town Council said it was ‘delighted’ to hear the news.

Chairman of the Friends of Dawlish Hospital Geoff King said: ‘Needless to say I am delighted that significant progress has been made but there is a long way to go in communicating to the community what is available and how to go about being seen.

‘Then there is the challenge of explaining how the system works to visitors.’

The reopening follows lengthy campaigning by the Friends who launched a petition last year calling for the unit to be open.

The Bring Back Dawlish MIU petition attracted almost 200 responses.

Many gave testimony about struggles to access ‘appropriate’ healthcare since the unit closed.

Patients who have needed services recently said the closure impacted on Newton Abbot’s Urgent Treatment Centre which had been often overwhelmed with many patients from Dawlish in the waiting room.

The unit will reopen without x-ray facilities at this time due to radiology workforce constraints.

Liz Davenport, Chief Executive at Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust, said: ‘We are grateful to be in a position to reopen the minor injuries unit at Dawlish Community Hospital.

‘It has always been our plan to reopen the service as soon as we were confident we could provide a sustainable service.

‘Our teams have worked hard over a long period of time to reach this point.

‘We know how much the service means to local people and we would like to apologise once again for the long temporary closure.

‘The feedback on the ‘appointment-priority’ service at the minor injuries unit at Totnes Community Hospital has been very positive and has allowed us to deliver a consistent service in that area.

‘We are looking forward to bringing this service format to Dawlish Community Hospital and providing an MIU once again.’