Campaigners have celebrated the long awaited reopening of Totnes Minor Injuries Unit more than two years after it temporarily closed.

The reopening of the unit this week will benefit thousands of residents says David Matthews, who led the fight to reinstate the facility at Totnes Hospital.

The Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust closed the MIU’s doors in March 2020 blaming difficulties in sustaining staff levels due to prioritising its emergency services in response to the covid pandemic.

Following a recruitment drive, the trust was in a position to reopen the MIU on Monday. Initially, the unit will be open five days a week between 8am to 5pm from Monday to Friday, but it is hoped it will open for seven days a week from August, the trust says.

David, who started the campaign group after he was forced to pay £20 for a taxi to Newton Abbot Hospital to receive treatment for a deep cut to his finger, said:

“The Re-Open Totnes MIU group have been campaigning for re-opening for almost two years now and here we see the resultant effect of the efforts of a committed group with an urgent and valid cause.

“The re-opening will allay much anxiety, inconvenience and risk to the thousands who live in the Totnes area.

“All of this prompts the thought that we should no longer allow the degradation of our health and public services in the interest of profit for a few, or through apathy, or as a consequence of political dogma.

“Thanks now to the Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust for seeing the light and enabling this most welcome re-opening.”

John Harrison, the trust’s chief operating officer, said: “We recognise that the temporary closure of both Totnes and Dawlish MIUs in March 2020 has caused some concern for local people.

“The temporary closures were made due to staffing challenges which were exacerbated by the demands of the pandemic.

“We have worked hard to recruit and train staff during this time and we are now able to reopen Totnes MIU.”

The X-ray facility at the unit will be limited to all day Monday, and the mornings on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Patients must book the X-ray via 111 to ensure the service available.

X-ray continues to be available seven days a wee, from 9am to 5pm at Newton Abbot Urgent Treatment Centre, says the trust.

The decision to staff and reopen Totnes MIU ahead of Dawlish MIU was based on data of previous use of both units, which show that historically Totnes MIU cares for and treats more people than Dawlish MIU, even in the summer months.

Speaking about the Dawlish MIU, Mr Harrison said: “We have recruited further staff and following an intensive training programme of up to 12 months they will have the skills required for an MIU.

“This does mean that we are unable to reopen the MIU at the moment but aim to have it up and running within 12 months when the team are fully skilled. 

“In the meantime, we are looking at interim options to support local people better.

“As a key part of this we are working with the local GP practice to see what can be done to provide urgent minor injuries care in the area.”

Residents in and around Dawlish and Teignmouth continue to have access to the Newton Abbot Urgent Treatment Centre (UTC) which is nine miles away, says the trust.