Out of hours services must be re-opened at a Market Harborough hospital now, a top health campaigner is demanding.
Local people should be able to go to the Urgent Care Centre at St Luke’s Hospital on a night and at weekends, said Cllr Phil Knowles.
The extra hours service was closed at the £7.5 million Leicester Road hospital in April after the Covid-19 pandemic struck.
Patients have been forced to go to a walk-in centre at Oadby or visit busy hospitals in Leicester and Kettering to be seen and treated for the last three months.
Cllr Knowles said: “It’s simple - the out of hours service at St Luke’s Hospital should be re-opened as soon as possible.
“We can all fully appreciate and understand why this was shut down in the first place when the virus hit us.
“But we need to see a definite plan now for re-launching patient services on evenings and weekends.”
The veteran health battler said it was also a “self-defeating policy” to send patients from Market Harborough to Oadby and Leicester as they are both locked down amid a local Covid-19 spike.
“I must stress that I don’t have any figures as to how many people have been referred from Harborough to the Leicester city coronavirus lockdown zone,” said Cllr Knowles, who leads the Liberal Democrat group on Harborough council.
“But who’s to say that those people will not pick up the virus in the lockdown area and bring it back here?
“It’s also very difficult for older people, especially, to have to travel to medical centres and hospitals miles away on nights and weekends.
“We fought for nearly 30 years to get St Luke’s Hospital opened here in Market Harborough.
“It’s a magnificent facility.
“We should be using it more not less and the sooner it’s re-opened to see and treat local people out of hours the better.”
A spokeswoman for East Leicestershire and Rutland Clinical Commissioning Group, which operates the service, said: “The out-of-hours service at St Luke’s Treatment Centre in Market Harborough will open once we are able to operate it safely.
“The safety of our patients and staff is a top priority for us and we are working to incorporate latest infection prevention and control guidelines in our response to the Covid-19 pandemic.”
She added: “We will notify patients when we are safely able to re-open services in due course.”