A petition has been launched by campaigners hoping to reinstate the 24/7 minor injury unit services at a Banff hospital.
Last month, the Integration Joint Board (IJB) members agreed reduce the hours of the unit at Chalmers Hospital, resulting in its closure overnight.
They argued the cuts would safeguard the services’ future and ensure high-quality health care. The decision came after the Aberdeenshire Health and Social Care Partnership (AHSCP) carried out a review of minor injury units across the region.
The new hours of the unit are yet to be announced, but the Banff, Macduff and District Safety Group has already launched a petition to get the overnight hours reinstated.
Chairman Richard Menard said: “We decided we’re going to run a campaign with an online and paper petition.
“The goal is to get the decision reversed and get them to think again.
“Peoples’ main concerns is the lack of medical cover in the area, having to travel to Elgin or Huntly or Aberdeen during the night, especially with winter coming.
“In this area there’s a 45 minute average waiting time for the ambulance but if it’s already taking someone the distance to another unit then how long will that be?”
As well as the petition, the group is establishing connections with the emergency services and the public to see what use the MIU at Chalmers would be to them and how the cut hours affects their role.
Vice-chairman Mark Findlater said: “We’re going to be the vehicle to collect the data about the unit use and put forward a case ourselves in the hope this can be reversed.
“We’re looking at many options to have this changed as we really believe it’s a risk to life or limb.”
Angie Wood, partnership manager for AHSCP, said the decision to reduce hours was taken based on concerns about the “safety and isolation” of nurses working in the unit overnight.
She added: “The decision was also based on the data gathered on the number of people using the unit overnight and the reasons for those attendances. The data was compiled by the staff at the unit over a six month period (January-June 2019) and showed that on over half the nights there were no attendances after 10pm.
“A minor injury unit such as the one at Chalmers Hospital can only treat minor injuries such as suspected bone breaks, cuts, scrapes, grazes, sprains, strains and burns.
“Minor injuries are just that, minor, and can wait to be seen in the morning either by the GP or at the MIU and by taking this decision we will be able to better support the in-hours provision of the service in Banff.”