Hospital hours to reduce

THE opening hours of Clevedon hospital’s minor injuries unit (MIU) look set to be reduced in an effort to improve the service offered to patients.

The MIU at the Old Street facility currently opens from 7am-9pm, seven days a week, and sees about 6,500 patients each year.

Under new proposals, which could be introduced before the end of this financial year, this would reduce to 8am-8pm.

Currently, most nursing services are available throughout the day. However, patients needing an x-ray, plastering or suturing may be sent to hospitals in Bristol and Weston if the necessary staff are not working at the time of their visit.

Recently, the skill level of staff at the MIU has been improved and it is hoped, by reducing the opening times from 14 to 12 hours a day, patients will receive a more consistent level of care, including the services mentioned above, no matter what time they visit.

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It is hoped the plans will make the MIU more cost effective and will reduce the number of patients having to travel to Bristol or Weston.

A report written for North Somerset Council’s health overview policy and scrutiny panel, which met to discuss the proposals on Thursday, said: “Consistent service will allow the MIU to attract patients more readily, as they will know they can be both seen and treated for the range of conditions available throughout the time the department is open.”

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Jeanette George, from NHS North Somerset, said at the meeting: “What has become clear is that part of the problem was about the skill level of staff and improving that level so they could treat a wider range of injuries.

“The issue at the moment is that the partnership is not able to provide that level of skill across the current hours the ward is open.”

While few concerns have been raised about the unit opening later in the morning, patients have raised issue with the earlier closing time.

* Also discussed at Thursday’s meetings was a proposal to stop offering endoscopies at the Old Street hospital while a new provider is sought by NHS North Somerset.

An endoscopy is carried out using a small camera which is used to view inside the patient’s body.

The current provider of the service, the North Somerset Community Partnership, has said it will be unable to continue to do so from the end of September.

As a result, such a service will not be provided at Clevedon Hospital until at least April, when NHS North Somerset hopes to have commissioned a new provider.

In the meantime, patients will have to travel to hospitals in Bristol for an endoscopy.

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