Continuing staff shortages are being blamed for new unplanned closures of Burnham-On-Sea’s Minor Injuries Unit.
The unit at Burnham War Memorial Hospital in Love lane is usually open from 10am until 6pm with the last patient admitted at 5.30pm.
However, Somerset’s NHS Foundation Trust says that continuing staff shortages mean there will be closures and restricted opening hours at the unit this week as follows:
- Open 10am – 6pm on Saturday 7th September
- Closed on Sunday 8th September
- Open for restricted hours of 10am-2pm on Monday 9th September
- Open for restricted hours of 10am-2pm on Tuesday 10th September
- Closed on Wednesday 11th September
- Open for restricted hours of 10am-2pm on Thursday 12th September
A spokesman told Burnham-On-Sea.com: “We are experiencing increasing difficulties in staffing our minor injury units (MIUs) and have to take the difficult decision to restrict the opening hours of some units when we cannot run them safely.”
“MIUs that have been affected in recent weeks are those at Burnham-On-Sea, Minehead and Shepton Mallet community hospitals. All the other MIUs at Bridgwater, Chard, Frome, and West Mendip community hospitals have been open as normal.”
“We know that it is a disappointment and concern to local communities when we need to restrict opening hours on safety grounds and we are doing all we can to keep our normal opening times unaltered.”
“This includes working very hard to attract permanent staff and seek short term bank and agency staff to cover shifts. Many of our colleagues are also volunteering to work extra shifts, or working in a clinical role, to keep services open.”
“When we do need to restrict the opening hours of some units, we notify our NHS partners so that patients who seek advice are given up to date information, post information on our website and on our social media accounts. The minor injury service is one of a number that provide care. Anyone who is not sure where to go should ring NHS 111 for help and advice, this is accessible 24/7.”
What is causing the restricted hours?
MIUs are led by Emergency Nurse Practitioners (ENPs) who are highly qualified sought after members of the NHS team. ENPs are senior registered nurses specialising in emergency and urgent care, who have additional diagnostic clinical skills and are registered as independent prescribers.
They are able to interpret x-rays and are qualified to a higher level in the resuscitation of both adults and children. Regrettably there is a shortage of ENPs nationally, Somerset is no exception.
Since March 2018, the equivalent of nearly ten full time ENPs have left their roles in the west of Somerset due to a combination of maternity leave, staff sickness, resignations, retirements and taking up jobs elsewhere in the NHS or overseas and we currently have five ENP vacancies across Somerset. This picture is constantly changing.
Staff work across a number of units in order to provide as much resilience as possible but, with the current level of vacancies, we have had to restrict the hours of some units when we cannot run them safely.