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West Wales minor injury department facing potential cut to opening hours

21 Nov 2023 3 minute read
Prince Philip Hospital, Llanelli. Photo by Hywel Williams and licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Concerns have been raised that health chiefs in West Wales may be considering reducing the opening hours of a hospital’s minor injury unit.

The walk-in unit at Prince Philip Hospital, Llanelli, is currently open 24 hours a day, seven days a week and treats a range of wounds, sprains, minor burns and limb fractures.

The Local Democracy Reporting Service understands that options that have been, or are being, looked at by Hywel Dda University Health Board include two which would result in fewer minor injury unit (MIU) opening hours at night.

Concerns raised by staff

Separately, on 20 November, Llanelli MP Dame Nia Griffith wrote a post on Facebook claiming that a reduction of night-time opening was being discussed by the health board based on a conversation she’d had with its chief executive, Steve Moore.

Andrew Carruthers, Director of Operations at Hywel Dda University Health Board, said it was at the early stages of reviewing the MIU model at Prince Philip Hospital.

Speaking on November 20, Mr Carruthers said that a review of the MIU followed concerns raised by both staff and Health Inspectorate Wales regarding “the inappropriate use” of the service.

He said: “When the new service was agreed and implemented by the board in 2015, it was never intended that it would treat acutely unwell medical and surgical patients. Individuals requiring such care should be going to a fully functioning emergency department.”

He added: “These challenges mean that our service is becoming increasingly unsafe, and so we are looking at options that will ensure the safety of all patients accessing the service at Prince Philip Hospital. Before any change is put in place, we will continue to speak with staff and local stakeholders, and to ensure that we have understood the impact and managed the effects of any change for the local community.”

Pressure on other units

There is concern that any reduction in opening hours at Prince Philip Hospital’s MIU would result in more patients attending already over-stretched accident and emergency departments at Glangwili Hospital, Carmarthen, or Morriston Hospital, Swansea.

Llanelli Town Council has pledged to fight any reduction in opening hours at the unit.  Town council leader David Darkin said: “Llanelli people deserve to have access to vital medical aid on a 24-hour basis seven days a week. Anything less would be disastrous. We need more services in what is Carmarthenshire’s industrial heartland, not less.”

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