An urgent care centre is to remain closed overnight, health officials have revealed.
The facility at Wansbeck General Hospital – along with those at Hexham and North Tyneside general hospitals – has been closed from midnight to 8am since December.
And now leaders at Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust have said the temporary arrangements will remain in place for three months to allow staff to be deployed to the emergency care hospital in Cramlington.
Officials say the closure, which was extended again in March, have had no detrimenal impact on patient care or any significant change in the number of people accessing services at The Northumbria hospital.
Figures show that the number of people from Northumberland using The Northumbria between midnight and 8am in December was 815, 753 in January, 682 in February, 718 in March, 723 in April, and 703 in May.
Those using the urgent care centre at North Tyneside during the day was 81 in December, 78 in January, 80 in February, 82 in March, 86 in April and 85 in May,
People in Northumberland and North Tyneside are reminded that should they need urgent medical advice overnight, NHS 111 is available 24/7 and will direct people to the most appropriate place for the seriousness of their condition.
The trust has said itis a temporary decision only for a further three months and will continue to work with both NHS Northumberland and North Tyneside Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) on future arrangements.
Dr Jeremy Rushmer, executive medical director at Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We’d like to assure residents in Northumberland and North Tyneside that this decision to temporarily extend the current arrangements at our urgent care centres has not been taken lightly and we fully understand that people care passionately about services at their local hospital.
“It was entirely correct for us to put in place the interim changes at the end of last year and, in the wake of services being extremely busy across the NHS, they have helped us successfully meet the high demand we continue to see, even now during the summer.
“As a result, it would simply not be the best use of our staff’s time and expertise to deploy them back now plus, with intense pressure on NHS resources, all trusts must play their part in making best use of public funds.
“We’ve looked in detail at how local people are accessing our urgent and emergency care services and spoken to our teams who agree that their skills are best used where they are of most benefit to patients during the night.
“It’s now two years since we transformed emergency care with all serious emergencies being cared for at The Northumbria where our consultant-led specialist teams are on hand 24/7 to treat people who are seriously ill or injured.
“As we continue with these interim arrangements and work with both CCGs, we would remind people of the very safe out-of-hours arrangements available, via NHS 111, should anyone need urgent medical advice during the night.”
Dr David Shovlin, a GP in Hexham and director for unplanned care at NHS Northumberland CCG, said “We have spoken with the trust and fully support the further extension of the temporary arrangements that are currently working well in the face of continued high demand.
“Beyond ensuring the safety and quality of commissioned healthcare services, one of the CCG’s key duties is to ensure that services are delivered effectively, economically and efficiently.
“The CCG will continue to work with the trust to ensure that this remains the case for urgent care centres.”