22nd May 2019
By Rashleigh MacFarlane, Cornwall Reports
The Minor Injury Unit at Bude and Stratton hospital will remain closed overnight until at least July. Health bosses have admitted that their attempts to recruit nurses are failing.
The overnight MIU service closed suddenly on 7thDecember as a “temporary” measure – but there are increasing signs that it may never re-open outside the hours of 8am-10pm.
A new report due to come before Cornwall Council’s health scrutiny committee next week (29th May) says: “There is a high demand for qualified nurses and paramedics, both locally and nationally, which is impacting on our ability to provide a robust, consistent service….during its current opening hours the MIU is staffed by one Registered Nurse and a second Registered Nurse in a development role. There is no medical support and the ward nurses do not have the required skills to offer assistance to their colleagues in MIU.”
The report adds that since their most recent update in March, health bosses have lost another experienced nurse due to retirement. “One nurse has been recruited into a development post and has unfortunately is unable to enrol on the Minor Injury Theory and Practice training until April 2020,” says the report. “The MIU currently has 3 members of staff who are not fully qualified and who are unable to treat patients without supervision.”
Local people are angry about the loss of service and say it is putting an increased strain on other out-of-hours health services, including emergency ambulances which then have to travel to Barnstaple, Plymouth or Truro.
But the report disputes these impacts: “None of these services have seen an increase since the temporary overnight closure,” it says.
The Cornwall and Isles of Scilly NHS Partnership Trust, which provides the service, has prepared a leaflet for the local community advising of alternative ways to seek overnight medical help. The report downplays the need to provide an overnight MIU service: “Since Cornwall 111 began offering out of hours care in November 2017, a total of 4,800 people in the EX22 and EX23 postcode areas have used the 111 service. In 91% of these cases the call was closed with advice and self-care support,” it says.
The report implies that people in the Bude area should wait until a new Urgent Treatment Centre, at Bodmin, is provided as a result of the Shaping Our Future programme at some unspecified point in the next few years. The report suggests that Cornwall councillors can expect another update in July.