Spending several hours to be seen at Yate’s Minor Injuries Unit could become a thing of the past this summer with additional staff and a new waiting system introduced.
An average of 50 people are seen every weekday by the four-strong nursing team with some days seeing a staggering 80 individuals pour through the doors.
Although many of the individuals attending have complex conditions or severe injuries, time is also taken up dealing with people with paper cuts, who have run out of prescribed medication or have a verruca which could be treated more speedily at a pharmacy, says Carrie Wedgwood, Head of Adult and Specialist Services for Sirona care & health.
Sirona, which is a not-for-profit social enterprise, runs the unit at the West Gate Centre and the care provided by its staff was rated as “Outstanding” by the Care Quality Commission’s inspectors recently.
The unit aims to meet the national standard of seeing people within four hours and it has had to close early a number of times due to high demand to ensure people are seen as well as ensuring clinic rooms are empty by the time the West Gate Centre closes each night.
Carrie says: “We know Yate MIU is hugely valued by the local community and we have seen its use increase dramatically over the last three years. The complexity and severity of injuries can at times mean all three clinic rooms are being used by people waiting for ambulances for transfer to hospital which in turn leads to restrictions on the service.
“From 1 August with the agreement of our Commissioners, South Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group, we are adopting national Urgent Care guidance and we will close during the day for short periods when the numbers of people waiting starts to build and will re-open once those people have been seen.
“This will mean people will not be waiting for hours and hours; we recently piloted it and closed when the Unit had nearly a four hour wait. We were able to catch up within two hours and re-open.
Carrie says the move from 1 August will also ensure consistency for the Urgent Care system across South Gloucestershire and Bristol as this is already successfully operated in the city.
National guidance states that on average each MIU attendee requires 20 minutes attention and currently around five or six people are seen an hour by the Sirona team.
Dr Ann Sephton, South Gloucestershire CCG Deputy Clinical Chair and Lead for Emergency and Urgent Care and Community Health Services, said, “Yate Minor Injuries Unit is an important part of health services in South Gloucestershire and provides people in Yate and the surrounding areas with access to excellent treatment for minor injuries.
“The new working system helps to bring the unit in line with local practice and national guidelines and will help to make sure that people being treated in Yate get the right care and attention. It will also mean that people will be treated more quickly and will have the best health outcomes and recovery going forward.
“Please also remember that all GP practices in South Gloucestershire provide urgent minor injury appointments during their normal opening hours and this is another good resource for local people.
“We would encourage anyone who is unsure which NHS health service they require to call 111 at any time to speak to a highly trained adviser for free medical advice and guidance on which service to use.”
And Carrie urged people to check the Minor Injuries Unit page on Sirona’s website to find out the latest information on opening times – the dedicated page can be found here.
She added: “The good news is that because we have been able to identify that Mondays plus Tuesdays after a Bank Holiday are always traditionally busy, where possible we will be ensuring we have an additional member of staff available on these days.”
However she also stressed the importance of people using the unit appropriately and to only attend with minor injuries.
“We can treat sprains and strains; cuts and grazes; arm, lower leg and foot injuries; superficial bites; minor burns and scalds; minor head injuries; broken noses and nosebleeds and eye problems such as scratches or foreign bodies,” said Carrie.
The Minor Injury Unit is open Monday to Friday 8.30am to 7.30pm and weekends and Bank Holidays 10am to 1.30pm. The x-ray facility at the West Gate Centre is not run by the MIU team but by North Bristol NHS Trust and it does not open at weekends.