Statement from Gareth Howells, Swansea Bay UHB Director of Nursing and Patient Experience:
The Minor Injury Unit (MIU) at Singleton Hospital was due to re-open in the spring of this year. However, it has not re-opened, because while it was temporarily closed, a number of GPs who were involved in running the service resigned. Efforts to recruit new staff during that time were unsuccessful. Clinicians raised concerns that the MIU would now be closed as often as it would be open, closures would be ad hoc, and they felt this would not only be a very poor service for patients, but would not be safe.
However, the positive news was that over the period it has been closed, the remaining MIU resources were used instead to support wider unscheduled care, including, for example, boosting the Acute GP Unit (AGPU) at the hospital and reviewing Welsh Ambulance Service patients due to arrive by ambulance. Using resources this way has reduced unnecessary hospital admissions and also diverted ambulance patients to alternatives forms of care.
Doctors involved with the MIU and unscheduled care, along with senior health board managers, have now met with the ABM Community Health Council and updated them about the situation – both the staffing issues and the positive results of utilising the MIU resources differently. The CHC has agreed to support the extension of the temporary closure of the MIU until November, with the expectation that the Health Board will carry out a public engagement over the future use of MIU resources.
An update paper on the current MIU situation is due to go to the meeting of the Swansea Bay University Health Board on 25th July to update members and seek their views.
If the Board agrees, then over the next few months the health board will gather more data and information, and speak to patients who have used both the MIU and AGPU. This work will be done with a view to formulating – with the CHC – potential options for the future use of MIU resources and undertaking public engagement/consultation during September/October 2019 with a view to the Health Board and CHC making a decision about these options in November 2019.