Overnight closure of urgent care centre to run into March

Wansbeck General Hospital.Wansbeck General Hospital.
Wansbeck General Hospital.
A temporary suspension of urgent care centres is being extended, health officials have revealed.

Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust withdrew its overnight care at the centres at Wansbeck, North Tyneside and Hexham general hospitals on December 1 to cope with the extra demands over the winter.

And it has revealed that the suspension will remain in place through March.

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It means anyone who needs to use the urgent care centre between midnight and 8am will have to continue going to the Northumbria Hospital in Cramlington.

Dr Jeremy Rushmer, executive medical director at the Trust, said: “Like all trusts across the north east we are continuing to experience one of our busiest winters on record.

“Thanks to our proactive winter planning, the temporary overnight changes made at the start of December are, without doubt, helping us meet the continued unprecedented levels of demand we are seeing.

“The current temporary arrangements in our urgent care centres are working well and will remain in place during March as we continue to manage surges in activity during winter.

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“They remain open daily from 8am until midnight and outside of these times people should continue to call the free NHS 111 number for urgent medical advice, including access to out-of-hours GP services.”

The suspension was introduced to allow the trust to have staff in the busiest place.

Since The Northumbria hospital opened in Cramlington last June, there has been an average of four overnight attendances at both North Tyneside and Wansbeck, and two at Hexham.

There has also been 12 days of no attendances at North Tyneside, 19 days at Wansbeck and 83 days with no visitors at Hexham.

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At the time of the announcement, Dr Rushmer said: “I am keen to stress that this is a temporary measure to see us through the winter period and means we can maximise the skills of our nurses by putting them into practice where there is most demand – for example we generally see over 40 emergency admissions every single night at The Northumbria hospital.”