Evening West Cornwall Hospital A&E shift has no doctor

West Cornwall Hospital
Image caption The hospital trust said it was considering other options

A nurse has been running a late shift at a Cornwall casualty unit for a year after the hospital failed to recruit a doctor.

Health officials placed five separate advertisements for a casualty doctor to run the 17:00-23:00 shift at the West Cornwall Hospital in Penzance.

Of seven applicants, one was invited for interview and that doctor withdrew.

The Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust (RCHT) said it was looking at "alternative ways" of providing cover.

Patients who could not be treated at the West Cornwall casualty unit were being sent by ambulance to the Royal Cornwall Hospital at Treliske near Truro.

'Really disappointed'

The RCHT said the casualty unit had been nurse-led between 23:00 and 09:00 for 10 years.

Following the departure of a doctor a year ago this was extended to 17:00 to 09:00.

RCHT Chief Executive Lezli Boswell said the trust was working with NHS Cornwall and Isles of Scilly and GPs to "develop options for a sustainable model of urgent care at West Cornwall Hospital for the future".

She said: "We expect to have a range of options available for further discussion by the end of the year."

Graham Webster, of the campaign group Health Initiative Cornwall, said: "We are very lucky to have nurses there, but they are only nurses and there are certain things they cannot do without a doctor.

"We are really disappointed that the trust has not progressed on this issue.

"It is wrong that people are having to travel such a long way for care."

Types of injuries which would be sent to the Royal Cornwall Hospital include chest pains, strokes, head injury with loss of consciousness, severe abdominal pain and all severely ill children.

Injuries which can be treated 24 hours a day at the West Cornwall Hospital include burns and scalds, fractures to legs, arms, ankles and wrists, lacerations which require suturing and eye injuries and infections.

The hospital can also initiate treatment for more serious injuries, initiate blood tests, carry out X-rays and carry out assessments on critically ill patients.

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