Update: better signage for the Minor Injuries Units to encourage more people to use them, thus strengthening the business case for longer opening hours, has been agreed. These signs should be going up shortly on roads like the A141.
“I’ve sat in A&E for hours with all of my three children at some point, and also with my parents and even friends who have needed emergency care, and it is stressful. If the Minor Injuries Unit at Doddington was to stay open until 8pm it would be really useful. As a parent you know the most likely time you are going to need to seek medical help is in the evening, when you get home from work and the doctors’ surgery is closed.” Ruth, March mum-of-three
Currently Doddington’s Minor Injuries Unit is open from 8.30am to 6pm on weekdays and 9am to 5pm on weekends, the North Cambs Minor Injury unit is open weekdays from 8.30am to 6pm, and the Princess of Wales Hospital (Ely) Minor Injuries Unit is open 8.30am – 6pm daily. Yet in practice many minor injuries occur in the early evening, as any parent with school children knows. The Clinical Commissioning Group has still not undertaken a study of the number of North East Cambridgeshire residents using hospital Accident & Emergency Units in the early evenings and weekends, to provide the business case to support longer opening hours in our Minor In jury Units. The opening hours of Minor Injury Units are less important in Cambridge, Peterborough or Huntingdon residents because the nearest hospital is a short distance away. This perhaps explains why extending Minor Injury Opening times has been a lower priority for the Clinical Commissioning Group. Yet in North East Cambridgeshire the journey to hospital Accident & Emergency Units is more significant. A recent pilot run at North Cambs Hospital on weekend opening was a success, with 153 patients treated in the first four weeks of the trial. 95% of the patients treated at the Minor Injuries Unit avoided a hospital A & E visit. The cost to the NHS of a patient simply registering at a hospital Accident & Emergency Unit is £80, and if the patient is seen by a doctor the cost increases to £120 per patient. At a Minor Injury Unit the cost is approximately £50. Increasing the opening hours of the Minor Injury Units will therefore improve patient convenience, reduce the cost to the NHS, and free up hospitals to focus on the genuine emergency cases. We call on the Clinical Commissioning Group to publish the business case for extending the Minor Injury Unit opening hours at Doddington, North Cambs and Princess of Wales Hospitals to 8am to 8pm weekdays . We also call on North Cambs Hospital to deliver weekend opening hours in line with their recent successful pilot.