NHS proposes partial closure of Welwyn Garden City's urgent care centre
PUBLISHED: 11:03 17 June 2019 | UPDATED: 10:03 18 June 2019
East and North Hertfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is seeking views on whether to close Welwyn Garden City's urgent care centre at night.
The urgent care centre at the New QEII Hospital - for minor injuries and illnesses - is currently open 24 hours.
But if plans go ahead it will only open during the day and patients would need to travel to a nearby hospital - such as Stevenage-based Lister - for out-of-hours care.
The East and North Herts CCG says this would free up nursing staff to work at the A&E department in Lister Hospital.
"We have to make the best use of highly skilled, clinically trained NHS staff, and we believe that when the urgent care centre isn't busy, the best use of their skills is to help people with life-threatening emergencies in our A&E at the Lister Hospital," said Dr Prag Moodley, a GP and chair of the clinical commissioning group,
The group points out that the urgent care centre is not really used at night with only an average of less than one person per hour - between 10pm and 6am - dropping in for treatment.
And it maintains of the people who do use it, 86 per cent leave without the need for further investigation and require no treatment.
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It is planned to remain open during the day, when an average of 118 people use the centre a day, from 8am to 10pm.
"We are committed to ensuring that our local population can access high quality urgent care and emergency health services, against a difficult background of increasing demand, an ageing population and recruitment challenges," said Dr Moodley.
The NHS Trust suggests that people in Welwyn and Hatfield, who need medical help outside of normal GP surgery hours, can call or go online to NHS 111.
Patients can also book appointments online through the website either at their homes, if they are too ill to travel, or at a GP surgery for the next day.
East and North Herts CCG will run public feedback meetings on the proposal over the next 12 weeks, with the first taking place at the hospital this Wednesday between 10am and 2pm.
The dates of all the meetings are available online via: qeiiucc.enhertsccg.nhs.uk/events
You can also have your say by downloading a questionnaire and submitting it to the same website, or by post, to arrive by Wednesday 4 September, at: Opinion Research Services, Freepost SS1018, PO Box 530, Swansea, SA1 1ZL (no stamp required).