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Wednesday, 22 October 2014

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Staff shortages force Cumbrian hospital injury units to cut hours

Staffing shortages have forced health bosses to temporarily restrict the opening hours of Maryport and Keswick minor injury units.

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Jamie Reed: Temporary

The two sites, which are designed to treat minor injuries and avoid visits to accident and emergency departments, will be dramatically cutting their hours throughout this month.

Keswick minor injuries unit (MIU) is traditionally open 24-hours-a-day, but will now be open between 7.30am and 9pm, Monday to Sunday. Maryport MIU is normally open between 8.30am and 9pm, Monday to Sunday. It will not open until 1pm, Monday to Friday, and from 8.30am to 4.30pm at weekends.

Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the units, says the “temporary minor changes” are needed to “sustain staffing levels on in-patient units”.

A spokeswoman expl-ained: “This will allow those staff to be re-deployed to other inpatient units, to ensure staffing levels can be maintained.

“It is a temporary measure while the partnership trust undergoes a recruitment drive.”

If a member of the public needs a minor injuries unit out of these hours, they are able to access Penrith MIU which is based within Penrith Community Hospital, in Bridge Lane, and is open 24-hours-a-day, every day of the week. Patients in Maryport who need treatment in the mornings on weekdays will need to attend the GP surgery next door to the MIU. At weekends, between 4.30pm and 9pm, they are advised to call the ward on 01900 812643 who will advise them on the most appropriate service. Normal hours are expected to resume at the end of November.

Andy Roach, director of operations at the trust, said: “Our priority is to ensure that our inpatient units have a full complement of staff and so we have taken the decision to redeploy staff on a temporary basis from areas that have low numbers of patients attending.

“We would like to apologise for any inconvenience this may cause and I would like to reassure the community that the service will be resumed when staffing levels improve.”

A spokeswoman for NHS Cumbria Clinical Commissioning Group, which commissions healthcare in the county, said: “It is with regret these very difficult decisions have had to be made, reducing the hours of services for a limited period, however this has been done to ensure a safe environment for inpatients and staff.

“NHS Cumbria CCG is working with Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust to address staffing issues to ensure normal services are resumed as safely and quickly as possible.”

Copeland MP and Shadow Health Minister, Jamie Reed, said: “Thankfully, these changes are only temporary. Cumbria needs more resources to allow trusts to bring in more staff and to improve care; cuts will have a devastating impact on health care provision in our county and this instance is just the tip of the iceberg.”

Opinion: page 12

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