AFTER weeks of campaigning, residents in West Somerset can celebrate after the Somerset Partnership NHS Foundation Trust announced plans to reopen Minehead Hospital's MIU unit overnight from May 6.

A statement from the Trust said: "Somerset Partnership Foundation Trust has been working to address the staffing difficulties matched with increasing attendances in its countywide Minor Injury Units – particularly in Bridgwater and Frome – which has led to the temporary reduction in opening times at Minehead and Chard MIUs when activity in those locations is at its lowest.

"Although there remains a shortage of appropriately qualified ENPs, the Trust has taken on temporary medical cover at the busiest MIU in Bridgwater which will allow the release of an ENP to provide resource elsewhere in the county.

"The Trust and Somerset’s Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) have agreed that it would be most appropriate to redirect the ENP resource to Minehead to re-instate the overnight shift.

"It will take a short while to implement these plans but we anticipate that the new arrangements will start in Bridgwater from 6 May 2014 which will allow the restoration of the overnight service in Minehead from that date.

"The Trust is currently recruiting to four new ENP posts and a small number of existing vacancies which will ensure that it can maintain MIU services across the county. 

"The recruitment is anticipated to be completed by August 2014."

Hotelier Bryan Leaker who started a petition to reopen the unit overnight said: "This is fantastic news.

"From May 6, people in West Somerset can look forward to care in the MIU which frees up ambulances for more serious conditions.

"I hope that the Partnership now understand that the people of West Somerset will not lie down when decisions like this are made.

"I'm going to keep our petition, which had over 3000 signatures, in case they try and close it again."