Three urgent day centres at Hexham, North Tyneside and Wansbeck general hospitals will temporarily close overnight from December 1, to help cope with what is expected to be an extremely busy winter for the NHS.
The opening times will change from 24 hours a day, to 8am to midnight, seven days a week.
This essential temporary measure is being taken as part of winter resilience planning across the NHS in Northumberland and North Tyneside and means that, highly-skilled nursing staff can be deployed where there is most demand on services from patients.
Between the hours of midnight and 8am, the trust has seen an average of:
· two attendances at Hexham
· four attendances at Wansbeck
· four attendances at North Tyneside
The trust has also recorded a very high number of days (83) where there have been no overnight attendances at all between the hours of midnight and 8am at Hexham’s urgent care centre.
At North Tyneside there were 12 days with no overnight attendances and at Wansbeck there were 19 days with no overnight attendances.
In light of these extremely low numbers, the trust is working with its urgent care nursing staff to ensure their skills can be put to best use to meet demand across the trust. This will include supporting teams overnight at The Northumbria hospital in Cramlington, where very high numbers of seriously ill or injured people, particularly the frail and elderly, will need emergency hospital admission during winter.
Northumbria Healthcare is holding meetings with staff and working closely with staff side representatives to ensure nurses affected by this temporary measure are redeployed appropriately given their individual personal circumstances and ability to travel.
Any patients in North Tyneside, Wansbeck and Hexham who need urgent help overnight when it is not a serious life threatening emergency, should call NHS 111 which is available 24/7.
Northern Doctors Urgent Care (contactable via NHS 111) will continue to use all three urgent care centres as their out of hours bases, should an urgent face-to-face GP consultation be required overnight.
Like all parts of the country, Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust has seen a huge increase in demand with around a 20 per cent rise in attendances over the past year as more people than ever before are using emergency services.