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Independents for Newark and District petition to reinstate overnight urgent care service at Newark Hospital surpasses 1,000 signatures

A petition demanding that the overnight urgent care service is reinstated for Newark Hospital has already attracted more than more than 1,000 signatures.

When including signatures collected by hand, the Independents for Newark and District (IfND) says the total is almost at 1,400, which they believe reflects the overwhelming support from residents who are deeply concerned about the current healthcare provisions in the area.

“Numerous residents have reached out to us expressing solidarity with our campaign and sharing their own stories of concern and experiences with Newark Hospital,” said campaigner Susan Crosby.

Susan Crosby at the Urgent Treatment Centre.
Susan Crosby at the Urgent Treatment Centre.

“Their voices amplify the urgency of the matter and underscore the vital need for accessible and comprehensive healthcare services in our community.”

The overnight service at Newark’s Urgent Treatment Centre ended in in March 2020. The impact of the covid-19 pandemic on staffing was blamed – with bosses saying it was not possible to continue to provide a reliable, safe urgent care service at the hospital 24 hours a day.

The centre instead opened between 9am and 10pm, 7 days a week – and these remain its current hours.

The hospital is for patients with an urgent but non-life-threatening injury or illness and is used in tandem with other urgent care services such as NHS 111 (phone and online), pharmacy advice and out-of-hours or same-day GP appointments.

In December 2023, an NHS panel recommended that the Urgent Treatment Centre should permanently close its overnight offering – despite opposition from the public.

NHS Nottingham and Nottinghamshire had gathered residents’ views through a series of public meetings and group discussions and ran a survey and online comments facility during September and October, during which 70.5% of people disagreed or strongly disagreed that the current opening hours are suitable and most people said they would like the Urgent Treatment Centre to be open 24 hours.

In addition to their petition, IfND has engaged with the Sherwood Forest Hospital Trust to represent the views of Newark and Balderton residents by attending public consultations, organising extra sessions to ensure community input, and raising awareness of their petition.

Members of the group have also been present at Newark’s market, collecting petition signatures and speaking directly with residents

Susan Crosby has now called for a meeting with David Ainsworth, director of strategy and partnerships at Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, to discuss the petition and address the concerns raised by residents.

“I have a good working relationship with David and the trust. He will meet with me to discuss the best interests of Newark's residents and ensure their voices are heard in decisions affecting their healthcare,” she added.

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

Once a decision has been made, the Integrated Care Board (ICB) which organises local healthcare services, will make a decision on whether to go to a full public consultation.

A spokesperson from NHS Nottingham and Nottinghamshire said: “Newark Hospital’s Urgent Treatment Centre (UTC) has been open for 13 hours a day (9am to 10pm) for almost four years. This exceeds the national guidance for UTCs, which suggests that they should be open for at least 12 hours per day.

“UTCs are for patients with non-life-threatening conditions which are also handled via phone or online consultation by NHS 111, local community pharmacists and out-of-hours or same day GP appointments. This is different to emergency care, which is for life-threatening illnesses such as heart attacks, strokes or major accidents needing immediate treatment from the ambulance service (via 999) and A&E.

“The current opening hours were put in place following the outbreak of the covid-19 pandemic in response to concerns for patient safety and due to ongoing staffing issues at the UTC, made worse by covid-19. But even prior to the pandemic, the UTC was often closed overnight at short notice because of staff availability issues.

“Typically, when the UTC 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.

“We have carried out a comprehensive public engagement exercise to hear people’s views about the UTC opening hours and use of local out-of-hours urgent care services.

“No decision has yet been made on any changes to opening hours and we will update on this in the spring, once it has gone through process.”

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