THE battle to expand not axe Haslemere Hospital minor injuries unit has gone up a gear.

Former Health Secretary and town MP Jeremy Hunt has taken up the cudgels on behalf of the key facility that treats 8,000 patients a year, but does not meet new NHS England requirements.

Responding to the mounting concern about the unit’s future, Mr Hunt is holding a public meeting in Haslemere Hall on December 6. He has pressed for the unit to be preserved in talks with NHS England boss Simon Stevens, as well as with Guildford and Waverley health providers charged with carrying out the major shake-up of urgent care services.

Mr Hunt told the Herald: “What I know from previous campaigns to save Haslemere Hospital and the Royal Surrey is that public pressure really works with the NHS.

“I’ve called a public meeting and I’ll also be putting leaflets through letter boxes in the next few weeks. We must send out the message the town is totally united on this.

“There’s no way the Royal Surrey could cope with the extra pressure. Its A&E is not currently hitting its targets.

“One solution would be to open the unit for longer. It’s perfectly placed in a hospital with a GP health centre and ambulances on site.”

Ian Doolittle, chairman of the Haslemere Health Group, said: “We welcome Jeremy Hunt’s intervention – the unit is a precious facility for the town and the surrounding area and it is good to see our MP and our other local representatives engaging vigorously.

“Like many others we are very worried that the rules for urgent treatment centres could lead to its closure.

“As chairman I wrote a joint letter with Haslemere Hospital League of Friends chairman Rose Parry to Guildford and Waverley clinical commissioning group expressing our deep concerns.

“We said that the loss would be ‘a local health care catastrophe’.

“We urge everyone to make their views known – at the public meeting and by any other means.”

Town councillors united to condemn the threat to the unit and pledged to take action at their last full meet-ing.

A Guildford and Waverley clinical commissioning group (CCG) spokesperson reacted to concerns, saying: “A key part of this early stage is listening to patients, carers and other key stakeholders and we are really pleased so many people have fed back.

“We have not made any decisions about closing any locations where minor injuries and illnesses are treated.

“Currently we have our clinical working group developing a long list of options. They will create a short list of options for consideration by the CCG in January 2020 and then for evaluation by NHS England and NHS Improvement South East.

“If significant change is required we will carry out a formal public consultation in spring 2020.

“We respect the concerns of Mr Hunt and the Haslemere community and will ensure that these, along with those raised by others, inform our proposals to deliver high quality urgent care.”