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Jo McCarron speaks to nearly 200 residents who turned out to join the call for the Minor Injuries Unit at Cossham Hospital

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The packed public meeting at Warmley Community Centre on Saturday (26th July) was called by the Save Cossham residents group, who Jo and the Labour team have been working with to make sure residents have their say over the Minor Injuries Unit. So far they have collected more than 7000 signatures between them.

Ben Bennett, from the South Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group, responded to residents' concerns by repeating that the decision about the Minor Injuries Unit still hasn't been made, and is now due to be taken in the autumn. Jo McCarron said, "The longer people are forced to wait, the more suspicious they become that once again promised services will be downgraded."

Jo spoke about the importance of Cossham to herself and the community: "As someone who has lived locally in Hanham for most of my life, I understand how important Cossham hospital is to the people of Kingswood. My family and I used the hospital before it underwent its amazing refurbishment. We felt fortunate then that we had nearby NHS facilities, and I know how proud we all are of the new Hospital. I also know how important it is for people across this constituency that this excellent local Hospital is used to its very best potential in order to serve our community."

She also spoke about the importance of the Minor Injuries Unit campaign, not just to deliver the MIU, but "to build trust in the delivery of local healthcare." The campaign is "about a history of threatened services, downgraded services and broken promises."

And she paid tribute to the work by Reg Bennett and the Save Cossham group: "As someone whose own background is in voluntary community campaigning, I know these campaigns can be time consuming, stressful and often a thankless task. The vast majority of people don't know how many long hours people like Reg put into it - but I know he and others in the Save Cossham team are working day in, day out to ensure our community gets the Minor Injuries Unit they were promised and deserve."



Here is the full text of Jo's statement:

My name is Jo McCarron and I'm Labour's Parliamentary Candidate for Kingswood. Many thanks for coming along to our meeting today.  

As someone who has lived locally in Hanham for most of my life, I understand how important Cossham hospital is to the people of Kingswood. My family and I used the hospital before it underwent its amazing refurbishment. We felt fortunate then that we had nearby NHS facilities, and I know how proud we all are of the new Hospital. I also know how important it is for people across this constituency that this excellent local Hospital is used to its very best potential in order to serve our community.

People in our area have already had to endure one lengthy battle to save Cossham from closure. Reg Bennett (under the chairmanship of Graham Kennedy) and the Save Cossham Hospital Group, along with local councillors and the former Labour MP, Roger Berry, worked hard to ensure that Cossham did not close - and it was a triumph to see their hard work and determination pay off, ultimately securing a £19million refurbishment from the Labour Government. It was a testament to what can be achieved when the community pulls together.

Local people have fought hard for Cossham, not only because it serves health needs, but because there is also an emotional attachment too. It is the 'people's hospital', so naturally local people want their say on which NHS facilities are provided there.

Now that Frenchay A&E has closed, the need for a local Minor Injuries Unit is felt more urgently than ever. And people feel more let down and frustrated than ever.

As part of the move of facilities from Frenchay to Southmead, after a long consultation, local people were promised that Frenchay would be protected as a community hospital - but that promise has been broken, with a raft of the services we were told would be delivered now scrapped. We were also promised the MIU at Cossham, but the longer people are forced to wait, the more suspicious they become that once again promised services will be downgraded.

Whether it is legal for the CCG to break this pledge or not, the fact remains that the promise was made, and should be honoured.

I understand how let down people feel about the uncertainty hanging over the Minor Injuries Unit at Cossham. I know first hand that there is nothing more infuriating than undergoing years of consultation, only to learn that it was meaningless. Consultation should always mean something, or else there is just no trust.

And that is why we have called this meeting today - and that is why the Labour team and I have been working hard alongside the Save Cossham group. We've been out speaking to hundreds of people about the issue every week, either on the doorstep, at street stalls or on the phone. It is a highly emotive issue  - and barely a soul passes without signing our petition. Over the last few months, the Save Cossham campaign and the Labour Party have jointly collected over 7000 signatures. I understand the current MP also recently sent out a leaflet with a new petition and has 1000 signatures to add to this total. All the help we can get building pressure is welcome and important.

At every step of the way our Labour team has worked hard to support the Save Cossham group and I strongly believe all political parties should be working together in the interest of Kingswood residents on this issue.

But the battle is not over and there are still many questions that need answering. Local people cannot keep being fobbed off leaving them anxious about local health provision. Particularly now there is no nearby A&E at Frenchay. So we will be keeping the pressure on.

We are continuing to hold regular street stalls and collect signatures door to door or at our regular telephone bank. We have a board circulating around, so if you would like to sign up to help us with this important campaign, please leave your details.

Finally, I just want to pay my compliments to Reg and the rest of the Save Cossham team.

As someone who's own background is in voluntary community campaigning, I know these campaigns can be time consuming, stressful and often a thankless task. The vast majority of people don't know how many long hours people like Reg put into it - But I know he and others in the Save Cossham team are working day in, day out to ensure our community gets the Minor Injuries Unit they were promised and deserve.

I know this campaign is about more than the MIU. It's about a history of threatened services, downgraded services and broken promises. We're campaigning to build trust in the delivery of local healthcare.

So I'd like to close my statement by giving a big thanks to him and his team, for all the excellent and vital work they are doing for our community.

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