HEALTH chiefs have come under fire for ‘breaking a promise’ over services provided at Rossendale Minor Injuries Unit (MIU).

Staff at the unit have begun turning away patients if all appointments are filled at 7.30pm, before the scheduled 8pm closing time. Before July, the unit would stay open until all patients had been seen, sometimes until 10pm.

A Thornton-based firm called Coastal Health Care Ltd took over running of the unit in Rawtenstall at the start of July, after being awarded the contract by East Lancashire Clinical Commissioning Group, which insisted at the time: “For patients, the MIU will remain exactly the same, providing care for injuries such as sprains, minor burns, stings and minor cuts.” The unit was previously run on a trial basis by East Lancashire Medical Services (ELMS), a non-profit group of local GPs, at a cost about £460,000 per year.

Russ McLean, official patient representative for ELMS, said: “I’m really angry about this. Patients were not turned away when ELMS ran the unit, and patients were promised the same level of service under the new contract.”

He said patients reported the unit being closed for new appointments as early as 1pm, although this was disputed by the CCG.

A CCG spokesman said: “If there are patients still waiting to be seen in the waiting room at 7.30pm, a sign indicating there are no further appointments is displayed. The sign is not displayed before this time. The CCG has been assured that if a patient did walk in to the MIU when the sign is displayed but clearly required immediate clinical assistance, then they would be seen.”

The CCG did not respond when asked if the new contract with Coastal Health was worth less than the previous deal.

As previously reported, ELMS chose not to bid for the contract.

No one from Coastal Health Care Ltd was available for comment.