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NHS to make decision on overnight closure of Newark Urgent Treatment Centre by Spring 2024

The NHS has confirmed it will not make a decision on plans to permanently close overnight services at Newark’s Urgent Treatment Centre until spring.

The urgent treatment centre is currently open from 9am to 10pm, seven days per week, treating patients with injuries including cuts, simple bone breaks, wounds, minor burns and minor head, eye and back injuries.

It has been closed overnight since April 2020 due to staffing issues.

Newark Urgent Treatment Centre
Newark Urgent Treatment Centre

A panel of NHS workers said the overnight closure should be made permanent, but Newark residents have fought for the centre to be reopened overnight.

The issue was discussed at Newark and Sherwood District Council’s Policy and Performance Improvement Committee on January 29.

The Integrated Care Board (ICB) which organises local healthcare services, said a decision on the plans will be made in Spring 2024.

Once a decision has been made, the ICB will make a decision on whether to go to a full public consultation.

The ICB says when the centre was open overnight, it would treat on average one patient per hour, in contrast to between four and six patients per hour during the daytime.

It says the centre, which is run by Sherwood Forest Hospitals Trust, cannot be safely staffed.

Lucy Dadge, director of integration at the ICB, said a process has been followed to bring a longlist of options for the future of the centre into a shortlist of recommendations.

She said the process involved a panel of healthcare experts, representatives from the population and hospital leaders.

She said: “That process has concluded. It brought together a small shortlist of options and that will now be considered by the ICB who will make a decision about how services should be arranged going forward.

“The ICB will make a decision based on a very thorough and objective process.

“We will be able to update you further on the decision which is taken in the spring.”

Newark Urgent Treatment Centre
Newark Urgent Treatment Centre

Councillor Neil Ross, vice-chairman said: “I have lived in Newark for five years, I have seen the transformation in Newark Hospital.

“You’ve gone through an options process and explained it well.

“At the end of October, Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust put out a press release about Grantham UTC. Lincolnshire ICB agreed that the people of Grantham needed a 24-hour UTC.

“I would like your comments on a very similar options process on a similar population has come to a different and clear conclusion.”

Ms Dadge said: “We have to commission services for the population of Nottingham and Nottinghamshire. They will make their own decisions based on the data in front of them.

“Grantham hospital is configured differently to Newark hospital.

“We have come to a different conclusion based on the other urgent care which is provided to the population of Newark.”

Councillor Jack Kellas said: “With the growth Newark is experiencing, and will continue to, do we not need that larger infrastructure to cope with the growth, so that as the years go on our services aren’t overwhelmed?

“How do we know we’re not going to be overwhelmed and will be above capacity based on the decisions that are being made?”

Ms Dadge replied: “There are population sizes which are considered appropriate for an A&E facility.

“It is over a million, so in Nottingham and Nottinghamshire, we are served appropriately.

“It is something we have to constantly review. At the moment based on the clinical evidence, nothing we see about growth in Newark would suggest we would develop a full A&E.”

Councillor Mike Pringle said: “Local view is very powerful here and we can all see expansion [in Newark].

“We would like to invite you back in the future.”

The ICB stressed the Urgent Treatment Centre will still be operating at a minimum of 12 hours a day, in line with the national specification.

In 2023 people in Nottinghamshire were asked for their views on the opening hours and whether they should be spread differently throughout the day.

A total of 1,932 people took part in the ‘listening exercise’, with 70.5 per cent of respondents strongly disagreed or disagreed that the current opening hours of the centre are suitable.

The majority of people said they would like the centre to return to 24 hours or for it to be an A&E.

But the ‘clinical senate’, a panel made up of nurses, doctors, GPs and NHS leaders from across the East Midlands unanimously concluded that the Urgent Treatment Centre should be permanently closed overnight.

They said opening times should be based on activity levels and available staffing, and more work should be done to raise awareness about the centre.

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