Hospital boss says service under contract until 2017 but is being looked at ‘in light of national guidance’.

Hospital bosses have answered questions raised about the future of the minor injuries unit (MIU) at Bideford Hospital.

Dr Alison Diamond, chief executive Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust, was responding to a series of questions asked by reader Steve Hammond in last week's Gazette.

Mr Hammond, from Bideford, asked whether the trust intended to close the MIU at the hospital.

In a letter, Dr Diamond said: "We remain under contract to provide MIU services at Bideford Hospital until the end of March 2017.

"Throughout this year, the CCG (NHS Northern, Eastern and Western Devon Clinical Commissioning Group) will continue to review local minor injury services, in light of national guidance.

"The CCG is committed to providing accessible local services across North Devon, including in Bideford, which are able to meet people's needs in and out of hours.

"The CCG is also exploring the potential for seasonal services to address the increased workload for the holiday season, and is looking to locate these closer to popular beaches, to ensure our A&E department has the capacity to treat more serious injuries."

In a response to a question about whether the trust would reinstate the ear, nose and throat (ENT) department at North Devon District Hospital (NDDH), Dr Diamond said the move was 'temporary' and caused due to the national shortage of ENT doctors.

She said: "Some ENT services for local patients are currently being provided by our colleagues at the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital (RD&E).

"Long term, it is hoped that ENT outpatient clinics and day case surgery will again be provided at NDDH by regular visiting surgeons from another acute trust.

"However, this is dependent on the recruitment of new consultants and could take several months.

"We continue to discuss options with the RD&E, other trusts and the CCG."

Asked about whether the trust intended to gradually move key services to Exeter, Dr Diamond said the whole health and care system in the area was being reviewed as part of the 'Success Regime'.