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NHS Highland to reopen Thurso minor injuries unit next month


By Alan Hendry

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Ron Gunn, chairman of Caithness Health Action Team and a newly elected Highland councillor, outside Dunbar Hospital. Picture: Robert MacDonald / Northern Studios
Ron Gunn, chairman of Caithness Health Action Team and a newly elected Highland councillor, outside Dunbar Hospital. Picture: Robert MacDonald / Northern Studios

Thurso's minor injuries unit (MIU) is to reopen next month – more than two years after being shut because of the pandemic and staffing problems.

NHS Highland announced that the unit at Dunbar Hospital will reopen on June 6, between 8am and 5pm, "allowing unscheduled care, via NHS 24 or pre-arranged elsewhere", during these times.

Caithness Health Action Team (CHAT) welcomed the move, while noting the restricted hours. It hopes the MIU will return to 24/7 opening.

The closure resulted from staff shortages and the fact that some of the team had been moved to the Covid assessment centre in Wick.

Sarah Budge, frailty practitioner at Dunbar Hospital, said: “I’m pleased that we will soon be able to reopen the MIU at Dunbar. The ongoing pandemic, as well as our staffing challenges, did result in the closure being longer than we originally planned for.

“This is part of a planned phased reopening as we continue to recruit. Provision of an MIU is part of the Caithness redesign plans and it is good to see the unit reopening.”

NHS Highland said in a statement: "If you think you need to visit a minor injuries unit, you should call NHS 24 on 111. NHS 24 can help you get the right care in the right place – they are available day or night.

"By calling 111 first the triage process will ensure you are directed to the right level of care for your needs which will also help keep our services safe.

"If it is a life-threatening emergency, such as a heart attack or a stroke, you should phone 999."

In December 2021, Councillor Matthew Reiss (Thurso and Northwest Caithness) raised concerns after noticing that MIU signs outside the hospital had been covered up, saying it sent "a worrying message" to the public.

At the time, he described the unit as "an integral part of Thurso" and something that was much appreciated by local people.

Councillor Reiss described the move to reopen the MIU in June as "good news".

Ron Gunn, chairman of CHAT and a newly elected Highland councillor for Thurso and Northwest Caithness, said: "I am delighted that at long last the MIU at Dunbar Hospital is to reopen, albeit on restricted hours, and I look forward to the covers coming off the signs outside.

"As I've said before, this is a vital service for Thurso and the surrounding area.

"I note that NHS Highland has said that members of the public should contact NHS 24 before attending. I do hope that this is well advertised as I am sure folk will turn up at the door like they did before the closure.

"I also hope NHS Highland is successful in recruiting the staff that will allow the unit to return to 24/7 opening."


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