Beds, Herts & Bucks

Welwyn's QEII hospital closes A&E overnight

A Hertfordshire hospital is to close its full accident and emergency service overnight.

From 16 January, the Queen Elizabeth II Hospital (QEII) in Welwyn Garden City will only treat minor injuries between 20:00 GMT and 08:00 GMT.

Those developing serious conditions overnight must travel to Stevenage's Lister Hospital, 14 miles away.

A lack of surgeons and specialist doctors has been given as a reason for the closure.

In October 2011, all general, trauma and gynaecological emergency surgery of the East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust was brought together in Stevenage, following similar changes made to inpatient, stroke, cardiac and neonatal services.

The Trust said that although the movement of these facilities were "better for patients in terms of improved clinical outcomes", it had "implications" for the QEII's A&E services, which is why they have had to be reorganised for an interim period.

'Clinical risk'

A smaller unit on the existing QEII site, which will eventually provide a "Local A&E" facility alongside other services, is expected to open in spring 2014.

Medical director and consultant surgeon, James Quinn, said: "With fewer surgeons and other specialist doctors based at the [QEII], especially overnight, this presented us with a clinical risk that needed to be addressed in advance of the 'Local A&E' service."

The reorganisation also means children over 12 months will only be treated for minor injuries at the QEII whatever the time of day, and those under 12 months should be taken to another hospital whatever the condition.

"All children aged under 12 months who need to be taken to hospital, should be taken straight to the Lister's 24/7 specialist children's emergency department, or one at a nearby hospital if that is closer," said Mr Quinn.

It was a 2007 consultation which led to the decision to close many of the services at the QEII and transfer them to Stevenage, with the aim of providing all acute services for the area on one site.

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