Plea to use minor injury units as waits get longer at Shropshire A&Es

Health bosses are calling on patients to make use of Shropshire's minor injury units where possible amid increasing pressures on the county's emergency departments.

The emergency department at the Princess Royal Hospital, Telford
The emergency department at the Princess Royal Hospital, Telford

Numbers attending the A&E departments at Royal Shrewsbury Hospital and Telford's Princess Royal Hospital in June exceeded levels seen prior to the pandemic, a new report to the trust's board of directors says.

Figures show 53 patients faced trolley waits of more than 12 hours in June, while just over two-thirds of patients attending the A&Es were admitted, transferred or discharged within four hours.

Ambulances also had to wait over an hour to handover patients on 570 occasions during the same month.

In a new report to Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust's board, its chief operating officer Nigel Lee said: "Urgent care demand has risen to pre-Covid-19 levels and beyond, with total activity up to circa 10 per cent vs 19/20 levels; ambulance activity has similarly increased vs June 2019 (up by nine per cent), but with an increase in the category one and two conveyances (usually greater clinical urgency).

"For A&E activity overall, the level of ‘majors’ has also risen, especially at the Royal Shrewsbury site. Volumes of patient arrivals at peak periods continue to cause challenges (especially later afternoon and early evening), and the trust has seen pressure on ambulance handover delays.

"The peaks in activity also put pressure on certain metrics such as initial assessment within 15 minutes.

"Joint work continues with West Midlands Ambulance Service and our local system partners to promote alternatives to A&E and alternate admission routes.

"Of note, the activity at the urgent treatment centres alongside both A&Es has risen, with the centre at PRH up 26 per cent above June 19 levels."

Last month it was revealed that nearly 4,000 ambulance hours had already been lost in 2021 due to delayed patient handovers at Telford and Shrewsbury hospitals.

Phil Atkins, clinical lead for minor injury units at Shropshire Community Health NHS Trust, has appealed to patients to use the MIUs, which are spread across the county, if at all possible.

He said: “It has been well reported that Shropshire’s A&Es have been under a lot of pressure in recent weeks.

"We would really urge people with non-emergencies to visit their local MIU and avoid going to the accident and emergency department.

“Our units are well equipped with everything we need to treat people with injuries such cuts and lacerations, bites, foreign bodies in the eyes, nose and ears, wound infections, assessment of fractures in adults and children over five-years-old, minor head injuries and burns.

“By coming to us, patients may not have to wait so long to be seen and they will also be helping to keep main hospital A&E departments free for those with the most serious or life-threatening conditions."

Patients can also seek advice by contacting NHS 111 online, via the NHS app or by calling 111.

Opening times for the MIUs are as follows:

  • Ludlow Hospital from 8am-8pm every day

  • Bridgnorth Hospital 8am-9.30pm every day

  • Oswestry Health Centre 8.30am-6pm Monday to Friday and 8.30am-1pm at weekends

  • Whitchurch Hospital 9am-5pm Monday to Friday but closed on weekends and bank holidays

The report is expected to be discussed during a meeting of the trust's board on Thursday.

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