The urgent care centre at Wansbeck General Hospital is being closed temporarily overnight because of 'unprecedented' winter pressures.
Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust today announced the decision to suspend Wansbeck urgent care centre between 10pm and 8am from tomorrow .
Staff will temporarily be reallocated to the emergency department at The Northumbria Hospital at Cramlington, to cope with the numbers of people seeking treatment there.
The measure – part of winter resilience planning across the emergency care services – will release an additional 56 hours of nursing time for the emergency department every week.
The Trust said that since emergency care was transformed in 2015, overnight activity at Wansbeck urgent care centre has been minimal.
On an average night there are fewer than four attendances between 10pm and 8am. In light of these extremely low numbers, the trust is working with its urgent care nursing staff to ensure their skills can be put to best use to meet demand.
Dr Jeremy Rushmer, executive medical director at the trust, said: "It’s not a decision we take lightly. But the sheer number of people attending the ED – including many elderly and/ or frail patients who are complex to assess and are in need of significant support to resolve their problems – means that we have to activate contingency plans in order to cope.
“As members of the public may be aware, we broke records in terms of the number of people attending more than once last week and there are no signs of pressure letting up, once the cold snap is over. The additional staff will play a vital role in ensuring we continue to have the right skills, in the right place, at the right time; so we can continue to provide the very best care for those most in need.”
While this temporary measure is in effect, any members of the public who are not in immediate need of critical or life-saving care should contact NHS 111 to seek advice 24 hours a day. Northern Doctors Urgent Care – contactable via 111 – will continue to use the centre as one of their three bases should an urgent GP appointment be needed overnight.