STRUCTURE: A local authority is to seek a judicial review to prevent a minor injuries unit being moved into a neighbouring council’s area.
The Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead is challenging the move by NHS commissioners in Berkshire to close a minor injuries unit at Heatherwood Hospital, and replace it with a new urgent care centre in Bracknell.
In doing so the borough has sparked a row with neighbouring Bracknell Forest Council, whose deputy leader said he was “stunned” at the move.
Windsor and Maidenhead last week voted to apply for a judicial review in the hope of overturning plans to close the Heatherwood unit.
The decision was finalised in March by Berkshire East and Berkshire West primary care trusts.
Cllr Sayonara Luxton, chair of the Windsor and Maidenhead adult services and health overview and scrutiny panel, said: “Residents come first in our borough and the reason the council is uniting with them to resist the centralisation of health services is because the system at Heatherwood works!”
She called the decision, by NHS commissioners to change the service “undemocratic”.
However Bracknell Forest Council is in favour of the plans.
Deputy leader Cllr Dale Birch, who is also executive member for adult social care, housing and health, said: “This is a sad and destructive threat to essential health service reforms. If Windsor and Maidenhead get their way then residents in Slough, Windsor, Ascot and Bracknell will lose out on planned improvements to their health services.
“All clinical evidence points to the need to decommission Heatherwood Hospital’s ageing and costly minor injuries unit and replace it with a new and state-of-the art urgent care centre.
“The out of date facilities at Heatherwood are now a massive drain on taxpayers’ money and do not meet the health needs of East Berkshire communities.”
“Instead of joining with health professionals in delivering much needed health service improvements, Windsor and Maidenhead’s attempt to protect obsolete facilities at Heatherwood is jeopardising wider health care reforms across the whole of East Berkshire.”
“We are all stunned at the royal borough’s efforts to preserve old, inefficient and costly facilities at Heatherwood.”
He said Windsor and Maidenhead’s review would cost taxpayers tens of thousands of pounds in lawyers’ fees.
Windsor and Maidenhead’s Cllr Luxton said Bracknell Forest’s stance was “very disappointing” and “unhelpful”.
Council press releases (attached)