Tyne & Wear

Hexham, North Tyneside and Wansbeck urgent care units to stay shut at night

Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital, in Cramlington
Image caption The Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital opened in 2015

Three emergency care units are to remain closed to overnight patients in an effort to keep "precious staffing resources" focused on daytime care.

The units in North Tyneside and Northumberland have been shut between midnight and 08:00 since December.

Overnight emergencies have been diverted to the recently-opened Northumbria Hospital in Cramlington.

The closures at North Tyneside, Hexham and Wansbeck hospitals, will continue for a further three months.

The Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust said the impact on patients had been minimal as the units were underused at night.

'Interim changes'

Staff from the units have been moved to the Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital, in Cramlington, which opened in 2015, to deal with a "very high demand" in day-time admissions.

A spokesman said it would be "inappropriate" to deploy staff back to the urgent care centres overnight at the current time.

He added: "This is to ensure best use of precious staffing resources to deliver patient care where it is needed most."

The trust said since opening the Northumbria hospital in June 2015, activity overnight at the urgent care centres had been "minimal" with, on average, less than 10 overnight attendances a day across all three centres.

The spokesman added: "We'd like to assure residents that this decision to temporarily extend the current arrangements at our urgent care centres has not been taken lightly.

"It was entirely correct for us to put in place the interim changes in the wake of services being extremely busy across the NHS. They have helped us successfully meet the high demand we continue to see, even now during the summer.

"As a result, it would simply not be the best use of our staff's time and expertise to deploy them back now."

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