OPENING hours at Swanage Hospital’s Minor Injuries Unit (MIU) will not return to normal – until at least March next year – as “staffing issues” continue.
Dorset HealthCare, which runs the facility in Queen’s Road, first cut the hours at the hospital in the summer amid staff shortages.
The MIU opened from 9am until 6pm, cut from 8am to 8pm, on a “temporary basis”.
Now, the firm has confirmed a “review of staffing has led to a decision to maintain the current arrangements through to the end of March 2024”.
Jane Elson, service director for integrated community services, said: “We really value this service and know how important it is to the community – we value their support and fully understand their concern about this change.
“We reluctantly took this decision to ensure our hard-working staff are supported to run the unit safely and effectively. We aim to extend the hours again when it is safe to do so.”
A review of the number of people attending the MIU during the additional hours (8-9am and 6-8pm) for the two years from April 2021 to March 2023 showed on average there were between one and five people attending during these hours each day, Dorset HealthCare said.
The figures also show that demand tends to be lower at these times during winter, reflecting the increase in the summer population in Swanage, it added.
A spokesperson said people can still access care during these hours via the 111 service and other MIUs such as Wimborne, where longer opening hours are available.
The Urgent Treatment Centre at Poole Hospital is also available.
“People needing urgent medical attention or advice should always call 111, or visit 111.nhs.uk, in the first instance,” they added.
“If face-to-face treatment is needed, staff will make an appointment at the nearest appropriate NHS site as quickly as possible. In an emergency or life-threatening circumstances people should ring 999.”