By Anne North
People who need treatment for minor injuries in the Bude area will be asked to take part in an experiment which could see their local hospital re-opened overnight from August.
The Minor Injuries Unit at the Bude and Stratton hospital has been offering only a reduced service, closing overnight, since December. The Cornwall Partnership Foundation Trust said this was due to staffing difficulties, and now says it could be at least a year before it can complete the recruitment of suitably qualified personnel.
But now the Kernow Health Community Interest Company – a not-for-profit private company – has suggested that the new “Integrated Urgent Care Service” could see the unit re-opened on a 24-hour basis. The hospital would become a “Community Treatment Centre,” with out-of-hours GPs who are trained to deal with minor injuries providing the relevant service.
A report to be considered by Cornwall councillors says: “The model would deliver enhanced cover in the area overnight through the use of clinicians currently working in the Integrated Urgent Care Service who are able to provide an advanced level of clinical care.
“These staff will be enabled to assist delivering the conventional 111 and Out-of-Hours service, will also offer greater accessibility for local residents requiring pre-booked appointments in the out of hours period, and would additionally be able to see and treat any ‘walk-in’ patients who self-present at the hospital overnight.
“This blended approach will require clinicians who have additional advanced skills when compared to the traditional MIU staff member, thus would feel comfortable in delivering safe and effective service to any patient accessing the service.”
The new model of healthcare would be tested in Bude until March 2020, with regular reviews to measure how often it was used.
The Kernow Health CIC is owned and run by GPs, and is becoming an increasingly important part of the NHS “ecology” in Cornwall – even though it is regulated by the Department for Business, Industry and Skills, rather than the Department of Health.
NHS Kernow says it supports the new idea. “The proposal provides a significant and positive opportunity for joined up and partnership working that offers an enhanced service together maximising available resources,” it says.
“NHS Kernow have confirmed the proposal does not present any negative impacts to the core delivery of IUCS Services – the commissioned service for out of hours are unaffected by the proposal. All parties involved are cognisant of the NHS Long Term Plan that centres on more joined-up and coordinated care being delivered by health care organisations.”
Should the experiment fail, health chiefs say they will continue their efforts to recruit suitably qualified staff. The idea of a Community Treatment Centre will be discussed by Cornwall Council’s Health and Adult Social Care scrutiny committee next week (Wednesday 3rd July.)