Friarage paediatric unit to shut early

The opening times of the short-stay paediatric assessment unit (SSPAU) at the Friarage Hospital are being temporarily changed from later this week due to staffing pressures.

Currently the children’s unit opens from 10am to 10pm, but from Saturday 17 January it will close at the earlier time of 8pm Monday to Friday and 5pm on weekends and Bank Holidays.

Doctors insist the impact on patients will be minimal because they say very few children attend the unit after 8pm, or after 5pm on weekends.

The SSPAU opened in October 2014 following changes to children’s and maternity services at the Friarage.

The hospital says that, despite efforts to recruit consultants, the paediatric consultant team has a shortfall staff.

Consultant paediatrician Dr Ginny Birrell said: “Unfortunately we can’t sustain the level of service we currently provide for children so, in the short-term, we’ve taken the decision to reduce our opening times.

“We do not anticipate these changes will impact on our patients, as very few children attend the unit after the times we’re temporarily changing to, but we will be closely monitoring the situation with a further review in April.”