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MIU Temporary Closures

Wye Valley NHS Trust responds to continuing high demand on its services

Hospital bosses at Wye Valley NHS Trust have taken the decision to move staff from its Minor Injury Units into the Emergency Department at the County Hospital to help it cope with the current high demand on services.

This will allow the Trust to continue to provide a safe and effective service at the Emergency Department - which sees some of the most ill patients the Trust has to care for - despite the unprecedented demand it is currently experiencing.

As a result of the decision, the Ross-on-Wye and Leominster Community Hospital Minor Injury Units (MIU) are to close temporarily from Wednesday this week, March 4.

It will enable the Emergency Department to continue to see and treat patients and care for the increased number of seriously ill patients requiring admission into hospital.

“Our Emergency Department is under extreme pressure on a daily basis and we’ve had some of our own staff go off sick. We continue to experience high numbers of people attending, and on some days we’re admitting 20 per cent more people than we would ordinarily expect at this time of the year,” said Richard Beeken, the Trust’s chief executive.

“We have a responsibility to ensure we treat patients who are most seriously unwell as a priority.

“By bringing three experienced and skilled staff from our MIUs to work at the County Hospital we can assure those who are seriously ill that they will receive a safe and effective service,” said Richard, who added that the Trust will do all it can to reopen the MIUs as soon as possible.

The Hospital’s MIUs, run by Wye Valley NHS Trust, will be temporarily closed from Wednesday, March 4, and are likely to remain closed during March - traditionally a very busy month for A&E departments in the UK.

The MIUs provide treatment for less serious injuries, such as sprains, cuts and grazes and are normally open Monday to Friday. Between them, the two MIUs regularly only see 12-13 patients a day.

Richard added that the Trust is working closely with health and social care partners in the county to minimise the impact of the temporary closures.

This includes new arrangements with Taurus Healthcare, the provider arm of the Herefordshire GP Federation.

Taurus Healthcare currently operates three hubs offering extended access to primary care in Leominster, Hereford City, and Ross-on-Wye as part of the Prime Minister’s Challenge Fund programme to trial new models of access.

“Taurus already provides some urgent slots in its extended hours GP hubs in Hereford City, Ross-on-Wye and Leominster. These appointments are all accessed via the 111 service delivered by West Midlands Ambulance Service.

“To support the Trust at this difficult time, Taurus will constantly monitor and flex these to meet demand. We’ve not used Taurus in this way before so it will be a test of our resilience as healthcare providers and we’ll monitor closely how this arrangement works to ensure the service meets patients’ needs. This extra support may be something we explore further in the future,” added Richard.

Graeme Cleland, Taurus Healthcare managing director, said: “As part of the wider Herefordshire health economy, we believe it is important that all health providers work collaboratively at a time when the system is under a great deal of pressure. We welcome the opportunity to work with Wye Valley Trust to support it at this time.”

There are a number of other NHS services available to local residents including community pharmacies, GP surgeries, and Hereford’s Walk-in-Centre on Belmont Road, Hereford, open from 8am until 8pm, seven days a week.

For urgent medical help that is not life threatening the public can call NHS 111 - which is the easiest way to access the GP out-of-hours service and the extended access to primary care being provided by Taurus. The A&E service remains available to anyone with a life threatening illness or injury.

"We regret any inconvenience this temporary closure of our MIUs may cause. The safety of our patients is our priority and the decision to temporarily redeploy staff from the MIUs to the County Hospital was not taken lightly,” added Richard.

It will be business as normal for other services/clinics at the community hospitals which will not be affected by the temporary MIU closures.