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Last Updated: Thursday, 3 February, 2005, 20:13 GMT
Safety fears closing injury units
Night-time minor injury services at four community hospitals in south Devon are to close from the end of the month.

The services hit are in the Teignbridge district, at Ashburton, Dawlish, Bovey Tracey and Teignmouth.

The Teignbridge Primary Care Trust says it acted without waiting for public consultation because of fears for the safety of staff and patients.

It said the move was only temporary, but that, from March, opening hours would be from 8am until 8pm.

This is an effort to localise services so that we're not constantly clogging up accident and emergency departments
Patrick McDonagh
Less than a dozen people a week attend the units across Teignbridge at night.

If they do have to make a visit, nurses on duty have to leave wards in hospitals where they may be dealing with up to 18 patients.

There is a concern not only about staff welfare, but also that of patients in the hospitals if, for instance, they were exposed to a violent drunk.

The Primary Care Trust said it was only temporary whilst public reaction was gauged to major reorganisation plans for minor injuries services across its five community hospitals.

The proposed changes involve major expansion of services at two hospitals, including Newton Abbot, where opening hours are already restricted.

Trust Director of Operations Patrick McDonagh said: "We're investing 200,000 to extend the services for our larger population base at Newton Abbot and Teignmouth.

"This is an effort to localise services so that we're not constantly clogging up accident and emergency departments at Torbay Hospital and at the Royal Devon and Exeter."

Emergency contraception

But the plans have already provoked public concern.

District Councillor Alan Connett said: "What we're being told in Dawlish, for example, is that nurses will not be able to do blood pressure, or suture, or order an X-ray.

"We'll also lose emergency contraception, which has been a big issue in the NHS for a number of years now about access in the rural areas."

The plans will be discussed by public health watchdogs in Newton Abbot on Monday.

The Trust, which was established in April 2001, provides services to 109,000 people in its catchment area.


SEE ALSO:
Injury unit hit by nurse shortage
20 Dec 04 |  Somerset


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