Shock as closure of Launceston minor injury unit announced without warning on Facebook

Patients and staff have been shocked to find out the minor injuries unit at Launceston Community Hospital has been temporarily shut without any warning.

It means people living in the North Cornwall town will now need to travel between 16 and 23 miles to receive similar services at either Liskeard, Stratton, Bodmin or Tavistock.

Hospital bosses have apologised for the failure in communication after a Facebook page run by staff at the hospital shared the news on the social media site on Sunday 26 July.

The post read: "A decision has been made to TEMPORARILY close our Minor Injuries Unit here at Launceston Community Hospital. This temporary closure is effective from today 26th July 2021 until 1st October 2021. Please call 111 to find your nearest MIU."

Staff shared the post after finding out about the closure the same day. Credit: Facebook

The hospital says it has made this decision because of issues around staffing.

In a statement shared on Tuesday 27 July, Cornwall Partnership NHS Foundation Trust said: "We have staff off sick both with coronavirus and other conditions or who have been pinged by Track and Trace and need to self-isolate.

"National guidelines were circulated on Friday 23 July about the ability for frontline NHS staff not to self-isolate and we are working to bring staff back to work when safe to do so."

Politicians have shared their surprise at the lack of information, with the MP for the town demanding an urgent meeting with the board of Cornwall Partnership NHS Foundation Trust.

North Cornwall MP Scott Mann says he is not clear on what has led to this decision to close temporarily.

"Why has this situation being allowed to develop? If we knew about this a week ago or knew there was a problem coming down the line we could have made those calls to government to see if there was a way of sharing resource," he said.

He also said it is far from ideal timing to close a the unit in the middle of the summer.

"My primary focus is to get this minor injury unit open as soon as possible. Whatever that takes - whether we need to get more resource, whether we need to reshuffle the deck, there might be problems with annual leave, until we can to drill down into those we cannot move this forward and get it reopened."

Mayor of Launceston, Cllr Leighton Penhale, said he is concerned about the future of the unit and if this will lead to it staying permanently closed.

The agreement will keep the unit closed until 30 September 2021 while other services at Launceston Hospital continue to operate as usual.