The minor injuries unit (MIU) at Heatherwood Hospital will close today, with services moving to the new ‘urgent care centre’ at Royal Berkshire Bracknell Healthspace in Brants Bridge, Harmans Water.
The controversial move has been the subject of several campaigns, with many seeing the move as spelling the end for Heatherwood altogether. Campaigners will stage a protest outside Bracknell Healthspace at noon tomorrow.
They are also unhappy the urgent care centre will be operated by a private company One Medicare, on behalf of the NHS, and see it as a step towards privatisation of all NHS services in Bracknell and Ascot.
Spike Humphrey, a member of the Save Heatherwood Hospital Campaign, said: “Not only do we regret the closure of the much loved MIU at Heatherwood Hospital, but also we know a contract has been placed with One Medicare, a private company, to run the UCC at Brants Bridge.
“We were opposed to the closure of the MIU and are strongly opposed to the UCC being run privately.
“We ask everyone to join us on this lobby and express their opposition to the closure of the MIU. We see the private running of the UCC as the beginning of privatisation of the NHS in Bracknell and Ascot.”
The minor injuries unit opened at Heatherwood’s site in London Road, Ascot, in 1996, treating patients for minor injuries and illnesses and will close its doors tonight at 10pm.Past and present staff at the unit were thanked for their hard work and dedication over the years there with a lunch last Thursday.
Mike O’Donovan, chairman of the Heatherwood and Wexham Park NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the hospital, said: “It is with regret that we have to say goodbye to the fantastic staff who run our minor injuries unit.
“It has for many years provided an outstanding service to the local population, and as a local resident I have experienced that excellent care first hand.”
The urgent care centre at Bracknell Healthspace will be open 8am-8pm Monday-Sunday and any patients needing treatment for minor injuries or illnesses should visit there.
This is two hours shorter than the existing service, which closes at 10pm.
NHS bosses insist the new centre will offer a better service, with a children’s clinic and greater access to GPs.
Past patients of the MIU are being urged by staff to bring back their crutches so they can be used at the urgent care centre. Crutches can be brought to Heatherwood until today and then to the Bracknell Healthspace from tomorrow.