By Chris Lennon, News editor
Monday, January 9, 2012
MAJOR changes to the A&E department at the QE2 Hospital will come into force next week.
From Monday (January 16), the unit at the Welwyn Garden City hospital will at night-time (8pm to 8am) treat adults with minor injuries only.
Casualties with life-threatening conditions will be taken to the “nearest appropriate hospital” – usually the Lister Hospital in Stevenage – instead or, if they’ve made their own way to the QE2, will be stabilised before being transferred.
Children’s emergency services will also be changing.
Youngsters aged over 12 months will be able to be treated for minor injuries only, 24 hours a day. Those with serious or life-threatening conditions will – like adults – be taken elsewhere.
Childen under 12 months who need to be taken to hospital should go to the 24/7 specialist children’s emergency department at the nearest appropriate hospital.
The QE2’s A&E department was always on course for closure ever since the East and North Herts NHS Trust decided, in 2008, to centralise major services at the Lister.
While full closure is not due to take place until at least next year, the reason for the overnight changes now is due to a lack of specialist staff based at the QE2.
James Quinn, the trust’s medical director and consultant ENT surgeon, said plans to turn the Lister into the area’s main hospital was now at the halfway stage.
He added: “Although better for patients in terms of improved clinical outcomes, we also knew these changes would have implications for the QE2’s A&E services.
“With fewer surgeons and other specialist doctors based at the hospital, especially overnight, this presented us with a clinical risk that needed to be addressed in advance of the ‘local A&E’ service the PCT will develop at the QE2 in 2014.
“This is why we have reorganised our services.”