THE closure of a ‘vital’ service in Chard would cause major problems elsewhere in the county, says the town mayor.

Earlier this month it was announced Somerset’s seven minor injury units could possibly close in favour of new ‘urgent treatment centres’.

But the county’s clinical commissioning group (CCG) does not have the funds to replace all seven units with the new centres, meaning some areas will lose the services altogether.

The seven MIUs currently in operation are located in Burnham-on-Sea, Bridgwater, Chard, Frome, Glastonbury (known as West Mendip), Minehead and Shepton Mallet.

The Chard unit operates within the town’s community hospital, which has also seen its inpatient ward closed since 2017.

Jason Baker, the mayor of Chard and a district councillor for the town, said: “It is with great frustration that our local MIU may be under threat of closure.

“With Chard being the biggest town in South Somerset outside of Yeovil, I am very often disappointed at the lack of services and investment in our town. We seem to be the poor partner far too often.

“This unit is vital not only to Chard but also to the towns and villages around us.

“Taunton and Yeovil cannot cope with the footfall they have in their hospitals, and closing minor injury units will only increase footfall to these hospitals and increase waiting times.

“We were promised the wards in our community hospital would only be closed as a temporary measure, yet they are still closed and I have always feared the minor injury unit would follow.

“I urge everyone to take part in the public consultation, and also to contact our local MP and highlight how important this service is to us.

The hospital’s inpatient unit was closed in October 2017, and continued problems have meant it still hasn’t reopened.

Nora Arnold, chairman of the League of Friends of Chard Hospital, said: “We view the possibility of the closure of the MIU at Chard with great concern. The unit is always very busy, it had 996 incidents last month, and is available for long hours in the day.

“If it closes, patients will be greatly inconvenienced, with all the trouble and cost of travel and parking at Taunton, or wherever the Urgent Treatment Centre may be.

“The present system works well: most minor injuries are dealt with efficiently and quickly, and referred to Taunton should they be more serious.

“A round trip of thirty miles for a cut that needs a couple of stitches to my mind does not make sense.”

It is not yet clear what will become of the community hospitals which house the units, as the CCG is carrying out an ‘engagement’ to gather views under the name Fit For My Future.

The new units would be open for at least 12 hours a day, seven days a week, and patients would be able to book an appointment.

Garry Shortland, district councillor for Chard Avishayes ward, said: “We all know the strain emergency departments are under to close the MIU here in Chard will only add to the problem.

“The unit is a God-send to the people in Chard and surrounding areas.

“Not only does it keep the load on A&E down, but it stops ambulances being used as transport to A&Es.

“The town has not been treated very well here at Chard Hospital with the in beds being closed and the promise of keeping everyone informed has not been forthcoming on the part of trust.

“Is this another step towards the total closure of chard hospital?”

Any business case would not come forward until early-2021 at the earliest.

A drop-in session has already taken place at the community hospital on February 7.

To take part in the consultation online, visit