A CONSULTATION on a review of minor injury units has started with a drop-in session in Banff.
The public had the chance to talk to staff from the Aberdeenshire Health and Social Care Partnership, a joint NHS Grampian and Aberdeenshire Council body, which instigated the review on how it will affect services in Banff’s Chalmers Hospital.
The review will take into consideration "location, demand, activity, practitioner competency and ongoing sustainability".
As well as the session in Banff’s Harvest Centre, they will also be held in Insch, Inverurie, Peterhead, Stonehaven, Huntly, Turriff, Deeside and Fraserburgh. The Turriff event will take place on Wednesday, March 21, at the Baden Powell Centre in Turriff from 3.30pm-7pm
Local campaigner Beth Ball said: "There have been mixed messages coming from various sections of the health care services about the current review of minor injury units.
"Now is the perfect time for us to let Aberdeenshire Health and Social Care Partnership know that we cannot bear anymore cuts to the NHS in the north-east.
"Our ambulance service and patient transport is already sparse and under great pressure, our transport links are poor and the number of doctors in the area has dropped.
"We saw last week how we can also be cut off by the weather, which may be a rarity but it happens and always will.
"Many of us already have to attend appointments in Aberdeen and that is understandable for some specialist services. But minor injury and emergency services are something that we need to be localised and enhanced.
"We need these services because when accidents happen we need them to be assessed and treated quickly.
"By the nature of our environment we have many isolated communities that are long distances from main transport links. Many people have no transport at all and the minor injury units that we have already service many small villages.
"Banff minor injury unit is a vital service along the coast. We have a growing population and one with many vulnerable groups and many industries.
"We pay the same rate of tax as anyone else and expect the same services. We should not accept cuts to our services because we know how vital they are.
"When Chalmers Hospital was opened the Telemedicine service was shown to be something to revolutionise our service, and it is a wonderful resource.
"That kind of service makes sense in the north-east, preventing unnecessary journeys and meeting the needs of each patient. It is the kind of efficiency the north-east health service needs to enhance.
"The Aberdeenshire Health and Social Care Partnership website states that: ‘The partnership aims to create an organisation with a single vision and budget, allowing practitioners to deliver the best service for people’s needs’.
"There are two very different areas under their management – Aberdeen and the rest of Aberdeenshire. If a ‘single vision’ means that we are all entitled to services that meet our needs then I hope that this current review really does listen to what we are saying, which is that we need our local health care services.
"I hope that ‘a single vision’ does not mean to put more money into ARI at the expense of the rest of the north-east.
"I for one would like to be reassured that we will be listened to in this review, and consideration given to the nature of our area, which is that we need efficient localised services."
Banff and District councillor Glen Reynolds said: "My fear is that the removal of the MIU will, for all intents and purposes, mean the removal of a casualty department at Chalmers Hospital.
"Instead of popping along to the local unit or arranging for local transport from friends or family, people will no doubt call on the already stretched ambulance service and they may have to travel from anywhere in the north-east, to attend to people in real distress.
"I urge people to let the Aberdeenshire Health and Social Care Partnership (AHSCP) know of any concerns they may have."