The local NHS is seeking residents’ views on the opening hours at Newark hospital’s urgent treatment centre after a temporary overnight closure was extended three times.
The centre was first temporarily closed for overnight admissions in April 2020 due to pressures during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The closure was then extended in 2021, 2022, and again in June 2023.
At the time, Cllr Callum Bailey (Con), a member of Nottinghamshire County Council’s health scrutiny committee, said he was “really disappointed” that the 12-month closure had been extended for the third time.
The Integrated Care Board (ICB) which organises local healthcare services, said it is not possible to safely staff the centre overnight.
Now, people in Nottinghamshire will be asked for their views on the opening hours and whether they should be spread differently throughout the day.
The urgent treatment centre is currently open from 9am to 10pm, 7 days per week. It treats patients with injuries including cuts, simple broken bones, wounds, minor burns and minor head, eye and back injuries.
Prior to the pandemic, before the temporary hours were put in place, the urgent treatment centre was often closed overnight at short notice due to lack of staff availability.
The ICB says when it was open overnight it would treat on average one patient per hour, in contrast to between four and six patients per hour during the daytime.
Victoria Mcgregor-Riley, Locality Director for the ICB, told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “We want to make sure that we have a sustainable solution for the Urgent Treatment Centre.
“We recognise the lack of certainty isn’t helpful and we are trying to secure that.
“We’ve committed that we will not be going back to the health scrutiny committee for temporary arrangements.
“We want this to be a solution that offers permanence.
“No decision has been made but I think given our review of the data it is clear the previous use was extremely low during the night period.
“The average use was one person an hour and that was a time when we didn’t have other services available like we do now.”
The ICB said figures show more people in Newark are using the 111 service and seven pharmacies in the area have signed up to provide extended services to treat more minor illnesses.
When asked if the staffing problems still remain, Ms Mcgregor-Riley added: “We’ve still got concerns about safe staffing levels should the Urgent Treatment Centre open overnight again.
“At this moment in time, we’re minded to consider retaining what we’ve got under temporary arrangements.
“We’re keen to hear from people as part of the licensing exercise to make sure we’ve got the right services at the right time.
“We’ve got face-to-face and virtual events, an online survey and we are actively reaching out to community groups.
“It is our hope that a decision will be made before June.”
It comes as Newark Hospital is benefiting from a £5.6m plan for a new operating theatre and two minor operation rooms. Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs the site alongside King’s Mill and Mansfield Community Hospital, secured the cash for the project from NHS England in 2022.
The ICB said local health leaders are “committed to a safe, sustainable Urgent Treatment Centre at Newark Hospital, operating at least 12 hours per day” in line with the specification for Urgent Treatment Centres across England.
Nottinghamshire County Council’s Health Scrutiny Committee will discuss Newark UTC at its meeting on 12 September.
Committee chair Cllr Sue Saddington said: “I would strongly urge residents who use Newark Hospital, a very good and efficient hospital, to take part in the forthcoming engagement exercise. I hope to attend as many engagement events as possible and will look forward to hearing your views.”
An online survey to gather feedback will be available from September 4 at https://forms.office.com/e/QRrXfZT62g
Public engagement events open to all Newark area residents:
|19 September, 2.30pm – 3.30pm
|Holy Trinity Community & Partnership Centre
|26 September, 10am – 1pm
|Farndon Village Hall
|4 October, 6.30pm – 7.30pm
|Online via MS Teams
|12 October, 11am – 12noon
|North Muskham Community Centre
|14 October, 10am-11am