By Richard Whitehouse
Health bosses have told Cornwall councillors they hope to restore 24-hour cover at the Bude Minor Injury Unit “by the summer.” Local people have been advised to attend a meeting on 8th July for an update.
Stratton Minor Injury Unit (MIU) was forced to close from 10pm to 8am in December due to staff shortages.
Cornwall Council’s health and adult social care overview and scrutiny committee yesterday (Wednesday) received a report from Cornwall Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (CPFT) which runs the MIU.
Phil Confue, chief executive of CPFT, said: “We hope that we can have it open for the summer.”
A new report will be brought back to the committee in July to give an update on that work. CPFT is also set to attend the next meeting of the Bude Community Network Area panel on 8th July to talk to the local community about the issues.
The nurse-run unit is staffed by registered nurses or paramedics who have undertaken additional training to see and treat patients with minor injuries and illnesses.
However since 2016 Stratton and Launceston MIUs have seen 15 staff leave for a variety of reasons including retirement and some due to “vulnerability at night”.
Dr Tamsyn Anderson, director of clinical care at CPFT, said that some staff had become concerned because sometimes patients can go to the MIU with conditions and injuries which are more serious than the units are equipped to deal with.
As a result of the staff changes there have not been enough staff who have the additional training to keep Stratton MIU open overnight.
The overview and scrutiny committee heard that the additional training used to take 18 months to complete but CPFT has worked with the University of Plymouth to set up a new six-month course.
This started in April and there were concerns raised by a member of the public that if new recruits were to be trained they would now have to wait until April 2020 which could leave the overnight closure continuing until October 2020.
However, representatives from CPFT said that they were now undertaking work to review workforce models which they hoped could resolve the issue so that the MIU can open again overnight.
Dr Anderson said: “We are really in a difficult position with having a sustainable model with the workforce that we currently have. If we can train staff that will allow us to reopen the unit.”
David Parsons, Cornwall councillor for Bude, said that it was important that people did not criticise the MIU itself for the forced closure.
He said: “The staff at the MIU have been feeling that we are criticising them – it is not their fault at all, they are working under a huge amount of pressure and we need to say “well done” to them.”
The committee agreed to note the report and requested that an update be provided to them in July.
This article has been supplied to Cornwall Reports by the BBC Local Democracy Service