Anger as staff sickness forces four-week closure

Reporter:

Matt Jones

A BUSY hospital unit has shut for four weeks because of staff sickness.

Flint Hospital’s minor injuries unit closed yesterday due to sickness at the site and at Holywell Community Hospital.

Furious community leaders have now made calls for Betsi Cadwaladr Health Board to reopen the hospital immediately with “considerable concern” raised about its long-term future.

Cllr Ian Roberts, leader of Flint Town Council, said with the chance of further illness there was no guarantee the site would re-open by the July 2 deadline and those in the town had been treated like “second class citizens”.

He said: “They have made the decision to keep the Holywell unit open with our staff and close the unit in Flint. I’m extremely concerned about this.

“Flint-based staff should be working in Flint.

“It is not just minor injuries, it is the dressing clinic. There are people who have particularity nasty injuries who have just come out of hospital with wounds that need dressing.

“It is blatantly unfair to the people of Flint.”

The unit at Holywell remains fully operational.

The Flint hospital, on Old London Road, is earmarked for “remodelling” and last October Mary Burrows, chief executive of the health board, said the cost of providing beds there is ‘relatively high’.

But there are no plans to close the 16-bed hospital, which includes an outpatient clinic.

Cllr Roberts said: “It does raise considerable concern about the long-term future of the hospital. Once people know the service is intermittent people with a minor injury who have a car will think about going somewhere else.

“This places the people of Flint as second class citizens. I’m calling on the health board to immediately re-instate this facility in Flint.”

Between April 2010 and March, Holywell’s minor injury unit treated 5,863 patients while at Flint 1,819 were treated.

Flint mayor, councillor David Cox, said: “It is a well used unit and the people of Flint rely on it. This is appalling and shocking. It is going to make it more difficult for elderly people and those with no transport.

“We are fearful that anything could happen at any time to the hospital.

A spokeswoman for the health board said: “Due to staff sickness at Holywell and Flint community hospitals, it has been necessary to temporarily suspend the minor injuries unit service at Flint.

“This action has been necessary to ensure that services remain safe for patients and has been caused by acute staffing problems within the two units.

“It was decided to re-deploy available staff from Flint to Holywell as this facility usually has a higher number of patients.

We anticipate that this will be a short-term problem and aim to return services to normal for both units as soon as is safe to do so.

“The situation will be reviewed weekly by the local management team.

“We apologise for any inconvenience caused by this temporary suspension of services and we expect a return to normal opening hours in the very near future.”

See full story in the Leader

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