Opening hours at the Urgent Care Centre for minor injuries and illness, located at the New QEII Hospital, Welwyn Garden City, are to change from Sunday 2 January 2022.
From January, the UCC will close at 10pm, and reopen at 8am every morning. Patients already in the UCC being treated, or waiting to be treated, at 10pm will continue to be cared for appropriately.
The decision to change the opening hours was made in July by the governing body of East and North Hertfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group, with support from East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust.
The UCC is well-used during the day, but patient attendances overnight have been very low for a number of years, despite an increasing local population. This suggests that people are using the new alternative sources of help and support now available.
In making their unanimous decision, the governing body noted that:
- on average, less than one person per hour visits the UCC between 10pm and 8am
- resources used at the UCC overnight could be better used, for example at Lister Hospital, where demand is far higher and this can better serve our communities
- a wide range of alternative sources of health help and support are available overnight locally to people with an urgent need, including overnight GP appointments and mental health crises. These services have been expanded in recent years.
Nick Carver, chief executive of East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust, said: “We always want to provide the best care to our patients and our local community. With a fall in the number of patients using the UCC overnight, there is a reduced need for the centre to stay open during these hours and we can better use our resources elsewhere, where the demand is greater.
“Emergency care remains available if you need it and if you have an urgent medical problem and you’re not sure what to do, NHS 111 can help to make sure you get the right care in the right place, either online or by calling 111.”
Dr Prag Moodley, chair of the CCG and a Hertfordshire GP, said: “The information we have about the UCC shows that it is very regularly and consistently used throughout the day, but that overnight, very few people use its services. We’ve seen over a number of years that this doesn’t change when we get to the even busier winter period.
“We want to make sure that all our patients in need have access to excellent urgent care services, with NHS 111 as the gateway to the right care, first time. Following an assessment by NHS 111 on the phone or online, if you need a doctor’s appointment at night an appointment will be made for you to see a GP at a clinical base near you, including the one in Welwyn Garden City. Residents who are not well enough to travel, but do not need to go to hospital, can be visited at home by the out-of-hours GP service.”