THE future for minor injuries units (MIUs) in the county faces a review as low patient numbers make them too costly a service to provide – on paper.
A report prepared for the Wye Valley NHS Trust (WVT) board this week says the need for that review is “increasingly urgent”.
The report cites figures to show that, since December last year, MIU attendance was as low as five patients per day at Ross-on-Wye and just under six a day at Leominster.
Despite the MIU’s at Kington and Ledbury - which are not operated by WVT - being open 24 hours and at weekends, they serve on average less than three and just over 4 patients each day.
The report says: “This means that a high price is being paid to provide access for local communities to poorly used services”.
The MIUs at Ross and Leominster stay shut this week as staff help cover under pressure A&E at Hereford County Hospital (HCH).
WVT is currently contractually obliged to operate the MIU’s and is looking to re-open both when new staff start in A&E next month.
Herefordshire Clinical Commissioning Group has called the closures “frustrating”.
Latest figures show A&E attendances at HCH stayed high over April with a daily average of 145 patients compared to 144 in March and 137 in April 2013.
There were only two days in the month with attendances at capacity (125) and the number of daily attendances ranged from 108-165.
A&E performance for April failed the 95% four hour waiting time target at 87% and total attendance topped 4,337 – down 121 on figures for March but up 234 - or 5.7% - on April 2013.
The CCG had estimated an increase in attendance rates of 0.8% for planning purposes.
An 8% increase in activity during the first 20 days saw A&E capacity, on average, stretched to over 17% a day beyond normal operating limits.
The number of breaches accrued during those 20 days produced an overall 4-hour waiting time breach fail for the month.