A SHOCK decision to reduce the opening hours of Yate’s new X-ray service has been condemned by local councillors who campaigned for the facility.

Ward members are furious they were not informed of NHS South Gloucestershire’s plans to cut availability at the Minor Injuries Unit (MIU) within the year-old West Gate Health Centre from next week.

Cllr Ruth Davis (Lib Dem, Yate Central) said: "We should have had some warning about it and we could have helped promote the service.

"The fear is once it has gone we will never get it back."

The NHS has revealed that from next Thursday, June 30 the X-ray facility will no longer be available after 5pm on weekdays or for the four hours at the weekend when the MIU is open. Health officials said the reduction was due to a lack of demand but the cutback will leave patients facing a trip to Frenchay Hospital and when that is downgraded to a community hospital in 2013, to the new acute hospital in Southmead.

Cllr Sue Hope (Lib Dem, Cotswold Edge) said: "This is contrary to the Bristol Health Services Plan which is all about bringing services closer to people and is certainly what local people want.

"This decision has been taken without any consultation when the health centre has barely been open a year.

"People take a long time to get to know a new service is there and the X-ray facility has not been advertised properly."

Cllr Sue Walker (Lib Dem, Yate Central) said: "There is a great need for opening on Saturday afternoons due to regular sports injuries. If patients require an X-ray as a result, they will have to travel elsewhere and might not be seen until the following Monday.

"The centre should be looking to extend its hours, not reduce them."

Roger Pedley, director of primary care at NHS South Gloucestershire, said the evening and weekend service was not cost effective.

"Most of the patients who have been referred by their GP use the X-ray facility during the day," he said. "That service will still continue during the normal working week.

"Unfortunately, it is just not cost effective to keep the service open for extra hours when there has been little demand over the year. We hope patients understand why we have made this change."

The £12million Yate West Gate Centre opened last February with the aim of reducing the number of trips to hospital. As well as the MIU it houses children's services in partnership with South Gloucestershire Council and a doctors' surgery.