Page last updated at 10:06 GMT, Sunday, 2 November 2008

More staff plan for accident unit

Neath local accident centre
The local accident centre has had to close a number of times

Health chiefs who have had to close a local accident centre (LAC) several times due to staff shortages are attempting to recruit new nurses.

Neath Port Talbot Hospital offers a 24-hour service which accepts 999 cases in general medicine and minor cases.

But health bosses say a UK-wide shortage of suitable doctors to run the unit has led to staffing problems.

Specialist nurses who can carry out more treatments could now be brought in to prevent such closures in the future.

The trust has said this will ensure the future of the centre and cut waits at Swansea's Morriston Hospital's major trauma department.

under these plans they will deliver the care around the clock
Abertawe Bro Morgannwg NHS University Trust

Similar staffing issues have affected Swansea's Singleton Hospital's Minor Injuries Unit.

Abertawe Bro Morgannwg NHS University Trust which runs the three hospitals hopes to employ more emergency nurse practitioners.

It also wants the local accident centre in Neath Port Talbot hospital to be led by a consultant.

In a statement, the trust said: "The LAC, led by a consultant, will use Emergency Nurse Practitioners to deliver care 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for patients arriving with minor injuries.

"At present these specialist nurses carry out this work overnight - under these plans they will deliver the care around the clock.

"Patients arriving with medical emergencies will, as before, access the Medical Admissions Unit, which is open 24/7, and will be led by an Acute Care Consultant Physician.

The trust's General Manager for Medicine, Andrew Carruthers, added: "We believe that this new model will not only be good for Neath Port Talbot Hospital, but also benefit Morriston Hospital's A&E department.

"This is because with our LAC service strengthened, we expect our waiting times for minor injuries will be shorter than Morriston's, and patients could be offered the opportunity of coming here instead for treatment."

The trust said a different model had been agreed for Singleton, where its Minor Injuries Unit has suffered frequent closures because of staffing problems, with local GPs staffing the unit out-of-hours.

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