‘Increasing concern’ over lack of urgent medical treatment overnight in Newark

Newark Hospital
By Jamie Waller, Local Democracy Reporter

People in Newark are increasingly worried about the town’s lack of urgent medical help overnight, councillors say.

The town’s Urgent Treatment Centre is open seven days a week but now shuts at 10.30pm.

It had been open overnight but its hours were first cut in April 2020 due to pressures during the Covid-19 pandemic.

In March this year an NHS management panel ruled it should now stay permanently stay closed overnight due to low patient numbers and staffing problems.

Run by Sherwood Forest Hospitals Trust at Newark Hospital, the centre treats injuries including cuts, simple bone breaks, wounds, minor burns and minor head, eye and back injuries.

The overnight closure comes 14 years after the controversial closure of Newark Hospital’s 24-hour Accident & Emergency department.

Newark & Sherwood District Council will discuss the issue at their full meeting next week (Tuesday, July 16).

Councillor Susan Crosby (Ind), the Portfolio Holder for Health, Wellbeing & Leisure, has submitted a motion calling on the NHS to work with her.

“The difficulty in accessing out of hours medical care is an increasing concern for people in Newark and its surrounding area,” the motion says.

“NHS Nottinghamshire discontinued its Accident and Emergency service in Newark Hospital in 2010.

“At that time, a specific commitment was made that NHS 24-hour urgent treatment would be available at Newark Hospital so that urgent cases of a lower severity could be treated locally, including at night, without the need for patients to travel outside the town for care.”

It calls on the council to say that “NHS urgent medical care and urgent treatment, 24 hours a day, free at the point of need, should be made available in Newark, based on the criteria of accessibility, patient safety, and clinical effectiveness.”

If the motion passes, it will call on the Integrated Care Board, which organises Nottinghamshire’s healthcare, to work with the council on ensuring urgent treatment facilities are maintained in Newark.

NHS Nottingham and Nottinghamshire says urgent medical advice is still available on 111, and they will review the current opening hours next year.

Chief Executive Amanda Sullivan said: “As part of the decision-making process, we engaged with residents and stakeholders to ensure that the preferred option for the Urgent Treatment Centre (UTC) opening hours aligned with the community’s needs.

“The feedback from residents of Newark clearly indicated the high value they place on the service received at the UTC and whilst there was clearly a strong preference for a return to 24 hours opening, this was balanced against other factors including current service usage and operational and staffing levels, within a rounded evidence-based decision.

“The decision follows a review by the East Midlands Clinical Senate and their subsequent recommendation to make permanent the overnight closure of the UTC.

“People who need urgent care overnight can ring 111 and can receive clinical advice without having to travel. They will be directed to the most appropriate service depending on their needs.

“We have committed, via Nottinghamshire County Council’s Health Scrutiny Committee, to both promote the new opening hours and the other ways that Newark residents can access urgent care and also to review the operation of the new hours over the next twelve months.

“Elected members and other stakeholders will continue to be kept informed during this coming period.”

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