New Weekend Minor Injuries Unit To Open at Downe A&E Department

THE  new weekend Minor Injuries Unit (MIU) service at the Downe Hospital begins on Saturday 1 March, 2014. 

The service is intended to lessen the impact of the temporary weekend closure of the Emergency Department.

The opening hours of the Minor Injuries Unit, which is located within the Emergency Department, will be Saturday and Sunday, 9am-5pm.  The service is led by Nurse Practitioners who have extended skills and experience in dealing with minor injuries.

[caption id="attachment_47438" align="alignleft" width="390"]Nurse Practitioners Kate McDowell and Rosaline Williamson with Deputy Sister Caroline Rafferty at the Minor Injuries Unit at the Downe A&E Emergency Department. Nurse Practitioners Kate McDowell and Rosaline Williamson with Deputy Sister Caroline Rafferty at the Minor Injuries Unit at the Downe A&E Emergency Department.[/caption]

Speaking at a press briefing in the Downe A&E unit, Nurse Practitioner Kate McDowell who will run the new MUI with Nurse Rosaline Williamson and Sister Caroline Rafferty, said: “It will be a safe and effective system. It is a pilot  – we will be linked to the Ulster Hospital in we need to confer with a doctor there, so we will have experienced staff and nurses working with us.

“We can for example, splint a complex fracture to ease the pain but that patient will likely move on to hospital for further treatment. We have all completed specialist courses and we have degrees and masters level education. Therefore, we are extremely confident that this will work. Most Emergency Departments have employed Nurse Practitioners for years.”

“There will still be a triage system in place as we assess patients at weekends in the MIU.”

Leaflets and radio adverts will be used to get the message to people in the South eastern HSC Trust area of the change in the service at the Downe A&E with the inclusion of a MIU.

Down News also learned that the South Eastern HSC Trust has had discussions with the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service and if an ambulance is not available in a reasonable time it will lead to a 999 call and treated as an emergency. The NIAS will then respond within ten minutes.

But the key message is, said Kate: “If in doubt about what to to, phone the GP Out Of Hours Service.”

Dr Colin McDowell, Trust Clinical Director of Primary Care and himself a practising GP, added: “This system is workable and do-able. We will have an GP in at weekends making the team of three GP’s on at one time with three nurses. A consultant will be available to view the X-Rays at the Ulster Hospital. We usually have a pool of eleven GP’s on rota at weekends. The Trust is really quite excited about providing this service and it will be evaluated after three months.”

What Can Be Treated At The Minor Injuries Unit?

The Minor Injuries Unit  can treat a variety of less serious injuries in areas such as:

*  children over 5 years old.

*  cuts and grazes.dn_screen

*  sprains and strains.

* sports’ injuries.

*  limb injuries.

*  minor head injuries.

* bites and stings.

* burns and scalds.

*  removal of foreign bodies from ears, eyes and nose.

* dressing and removal of stitches.

Children over 5 years of age can be treated but children under 5 should be taken to the nearest Emergency Department.  X-ray examinations can be requested by the Nurse Practitioner.

The conditions which cannot be treated include:

*  children under 5 years old.

*  chest pain.

[caption id="attachment_45682" align="alignright" width="350"]The Downe A&E. The Downe A&E.[/caption]

*  abdominal pain.

*  collapse.

*  sore throat.

*  asthma, shortness of breath.

*  gynaelogical problems.

*  mental heal;th problems.

*  intoxicated patients.

Patients who are seriously ill should visit their nearest Emergency Department, or in an emergency dial 999.

If patients are unsure whether or not to use the Minor Injuries Unit they should call (028) 4461 3311 for advice and guidance.

The GP Out of Hours Service continues to operate from 6pm to 8am on weekdays and all day Saturday, Sunday and Bank Holidays. Their contact number is (028) 9260 220

In the meantime, the Trust continues its efforts to recruit middle grade doctors for the Emergency Departments in both Downe and Lagan Valley Hospitals.  The Trust is also working closely with GP’s to facilitate direct admission to in-patient beds at both hospitals, where it is clinically appropriate.

On 4 January 2014 urgent changes to Emergency Department  opening hours at both Lagan Valley and Downe Hospitals were implemented, due to a shortage of emergency medicine doctors.  Each hospital now provides a weekday Urgent Care service operating its ED service from 8am to 8pm with GP Out Of Hours (GP OOH) services from 6pm to 8am.

This continues to provide the local population with 24-hour access to urgent care services, and is supported by the facilitation of direct inpatient admission to hospital by GP’s as appropriate.

The provision of the weekend  Minor Injuries Unit service will be more  convenient for patients and mitigate risk.