A MINOR injuries unit which more than 5,000 people signed a petition in support of will close overnight, it has been confirmed.
As a result of health officials approving the overnight closure of the nurse-led unit, that treats injuries that are not life or limb-threatening, at Abergavenny’s Nevill Hall Hospital the only 24 hour, seven day a week service in the area will be at the Royal Gwent Hospital in Newport.
A consultation on the plan to close the Abergavenny unit between 1am and 7am was run from September to December and prompted more than 2,000 responses and 5,182 people to sign a petition calling for it to be saved.
But Leanne Watkins, the chief operating officer for the Aneurin Bevan University Health Board, said the closure should go forward as no significant new information had come forward which meant it should change its plans.
She told the board meeting which agreed the closure: “The driver behind this was following insight, intelligence and analysis and how we best use resources to match demand. In terms of demand at Nevill Hall it was extremely low, one patient a night and consumed a disproportionate amount of resource of clinical staff.”
She said as a result of issues raised during the first weeks of the consultation it had been extended from eight to 12 weeks and additional work was undertaken to work with the Powys health board due to the potential impact on patients in the county.
Concerns had been raised about how people could get to the unit in Newport and Ms Watkins said the consultation had also shown there was a lack of understanding of “navigating the emergency care system”.
As a result it was also agreed an informal ‘safety net’ will operate so anyone attending while the unit is closed can have a basic assessment and be given advice on what they should do, such at contacting the 111 out of hours number, attending the emergency unit at the Grange or waiting until the unit reopens at 7am. A report to the board stressed this is intended to deal with people who’ve attended by mistake rather than being a regular service.
Ms Watkins said the board will have to consider how it can “simplify” emergency care, with the unit and others at the Royal Gwent, Ebbw Vale and Ystrad Mynach intended to support the emergency department at the Grange Hospital in Cwmbran which is intended to treat the most seriously sick and injured patients.
The board’s vice chair, independent member Pippa Britton said she was concerned nursing staff at Nevill Hall only see a small number of patients overnight.
She said: “Only seeing one person a night it is quite difficult to keep skills up. I’m concerned there is an opportunity almost to create harm, someone treating you at three in the morning and their skills aren’t up to date.”
She said her experience is patients are willing to travel “a bit further” for the right level of treatment and said the board also needed to make sure people know “where they should go and for what treatment”.
The report also acknowledged concern over the future of services at Nevill Hall but stated the board has invested in new services at the hospital.
It was also agreed the overnight closure of the minor injuries unit at Ysbyty Ystrad Fawr, in Ystrad Mynach, between 1am and 7am, introduced as an emergency measure during the pandemic be made permanent.