Change of hours for Cromer Minor Injuries Unit
Cromer & District Hospital's Minor Injuries Unit (MIU) will change its opening hours from January next year following a formal public consultation about the service.
The MIU is currently open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. However an audit of patients who used the MIU at night-time, between January and November 2003, showed that, on average, less than one person a night used the service.
Because less than one patient a night uses the MIU the hospital trust proposed in January 2004 that the unit remain open seven days a week but from 08:00 to 22:00, rather than 24 hours a day.
The Trust also consulted on how the public would feel about the MIU becoming a totally nurse led service as 98 per cent of our MIU patients are already treated by ENPs. A three month consultation period ended on April 2, and the consultation leaflet was made available in the hospital's MIU reception, at local GP surgeries and 12,000 copies of the leaflet were inserted into and distributed via the North Norfolk News, a local weekly newspaper.
All the responses were logged and fed back to the hospital's managers. Any member of the public who raised a specific question also received a letter of response. Of the 12,000 consultation leaflets distributed, 120 were returned (response rate 1%). Of those:
- 41.6% (50) were opposed to the change in hours
- 29.1% (35) agreed with the change in hours
- 11.6% (14) agreed, but with extended opening hours in summer
- 17.5% (21) did not express a view about the proposals, but raised a separate issue relating to the NHS, or stated that they did not know the service existed (6)
Of the 41 per cent who opposed the change in hours, a significant proportion (10 per cent) appear not to have fully understood the role of a Minor Injuries Unit, and variously expressed concern about lifesaving emergency or casualty care in the event of heart attacks, car crashes and shipwrecks.
24-hour NHS care is already well provided by the out–of-hours service, ambulance service, NHS Direct on 0845 4647, and the emergency departments at Norwich, Gorleston and King’s Lynn.
The Cromer–based Minor Injuries Unit only treats minor injuries. As a result of the consultation, the NHS Trust is concerned by the low awareness of what the service is, and what it can be used for, and will develop an awareness-raising campaign.
Clinical director for Cromer, Dr Erika Denton, said: We would like to thank the public for their valuable input. We are concerned about apparently low levels of awareness regarding the nature of a minor injuries service and we will be developing a publicity campaign. A minor injury service is not and will never be a lifesaving service and our public may need a better understanding of what services are available and where.
What Cromer's MIU can deal with
- Minor head injuries (with no loss of consciousness)
- Simple wounds
- Simple eye conditions, foreign body, corneal abrasions, arc eye
- Minor burns
- Soft tissue injury
- Bites and stings, with no associated complications, or acute reaction
- Simple fractures
What Cromer's MIU cannot deal with
- Complicated or serious injury
- Fractures that may need manipulation
- Head injury where there is evidence of loss of consciousness or associated symptom
- Medical conditions in their acute form, asthma, diabetes, allergic reaction
- Major illness i.e. Stroke, Heart attack
The public was supportive of the proposal that the MIU becomes completely nurse-led, staffed by highly trained and experienced Emergency Nurse Practitioners (ENPs) competent to deal with minor injuries.
From a date to be agreed in January, the opening hours for the MIU will change to 08:00 to 22:00 The NHS locally will also be undertaking a public information campaign about minor injuries and out of hours services and how best to access them.