In what appears to be a sudden change of heart that has caught many off-guard, Beverley & Holderness MP Graham Stuart now believes that the closure of the MIUs in Hornsea and Withernsea are “understandable” as long as patients don’t have to travel too far for care.

In an interview with David Burns on his BBC Humberside show (which can be found here, begins at around 49:30), MP Graham Stuart says that it would be “regrettable” but “understandable” that the Hornsea MIU is closed and that in fact there’s an “argument for it” to be closed. It is worrying that he believes Hornsea has good transport links to Beverley, which really is telling of this experienced MP’s knowledge of East Yorkshire.

Now, at a glance, this viewpoint could seem reasonable to someone that doesn’t live in the area. However, residents of Withernsea and Hornsea unable to drive, or without easy access to friends or family that can drive, know all too well how difficult it is to get anywhere, especially with the reduced public transport links and lack of low-priced transportation. For example, a trip to Beverley from Hornsea would cost over £9 on the bus (Adult Day Return), and then there’s the issue that the service only runs once per hour, at best, during the week, with further reduced services on the weekend.

Taking into account the locations of the bus stops from Hornsea to Beverley it would not be unreasonable to say that, after waiting up to an hour for the next bus to arrive, it would take 10 minutes to walk to the bus stop, between 45 minutes and 1 hour to get through to Beverley, a further 10 minute walk from the nearest bus stop in Beverley to the MIU on Swinemoore Lane, and then an unknown amount of time waiting in an already over-capacity NHS system. Simple maths says that this trip could take upwards of 2 hours, each way. Now considering doing that while nursing a broken arm or a mild burn (which the Beverley MIU says it is there to treat).

Through personal experience, a visit in the not so distant past to the MIU in Hornsea, there are regular buses through the town that go to the MIU (and GPs office which is beside it), your queue is an understandable length due to previous budget cuts, but by no means unacceptable, you get seen, and you’re home all within the time it takes the bus to get from Hornsea to Beverley. Why would anyone consider this a waste of NHS funding to keep the MIU open? Surely that level of care and access to care is exactly what the NHS was established to provide? Or does this MP believe that sending people to an already over-crowded, under-funded and critically understaffed facility in a busier town is fair?

It really is worth considering what plans our MP has for the location, if the MIUs were to shut. Surely if the buildings, recently renovated at quite some cost, are surplus to requirements then they will be demolished, and with the NHS already struggling financially, it’s likely the land would end up being sold off.

Does the MP plan to let the Hornsea area lose its vital MIU service, which helps relieve the burden of the neighbouring GPs office, notorious for being difficult to find an appointment as it’s so busy, and let the land be sold to build yet more houses in an over-populated and under-serviced area?

What is for certain is that it is very unlikely that locals will let the MIUs be shut without fighting to save it until the bitter end.

What’s even more certain is that MP Graham Stuart’s decision has lost him the faith, and possibly the vote, of many locals.