Swanage Hospital has altered the sign outside the Minor Injuries Unit (MIU), so if a person turns up and requires immediate support, they will be assessed by its staff.
This follows updated NHS guidance in Dorset.
Originally, Dorset Healthcare University NHS Foundation Trust, which runs Swanage Hospital, said that from Monday 21st June 2021, if a person had a minor injury or ailment they should call 111 first for a telephone assessment.
A national NHS directive
This was a result of a national NHS directive to make patients contact NHS 111 to be assessed and deter anyone from just turning up at an accident and emergency department or an MIU.
However this led to concern among Swanage residents, who queried whether they would be left on the doorstep of the Swanage Hospital MIU with a painful injury or an unwell child, while they phoned the NHS 111 helpline.
“If someone turns up at an MIU…they will still be assessed”
Now it’s been clarified that someone turning up at an MIU will be assessed by its staff. A spokesperson for Dorset Healthcare University NHS Foundation Trust said:
“We would urge everyone with a minor injury or ailment which is not life-threatening to contact 111 first for an assessment. This will save time and ensure people are directed to the right service.
“If someone turns up at an MIU without doing so, they will still be assessed, but – if not requiring immediate support – may be asked to call 111 or given a subsequent booked appointment.
“Contacting 111 first is likely to save them time and an unnecessary journey. If someone has a more serious injury which requires urgent medical attention, they should call 999 as usual.
“The 111 first approach has worked extremely well during the pandemic and is how we plan to operate going forward, though we will keep it under review in line with national guidance.”
Updated sign outside Swanage MIU
Swanage Hospital has updated the sign outside its MIU to reflect this guidance. It now reads:
“If you already have an appointment for MIU please press the reception intercom. If you do not have an appointment please phone 111 for assessment.
“If you have any of the following symptoms, please press the intercom: chest pain, shortness of breath (if concerned Covid please call 119 for testing), seizures, reduced level consciousness, anaphylaxis, stroke symptoms, uncontrolled bleeding, unwell child.
“Between 8 pm and 8 am please dial 999.”
“Immense pressure in our health and care system”
Many residents worried about the end of walk-in access to the MIU have contacted local councillors to voice their concerns.
Councillor Laura Miller, who represents West Purbeck on Dorset Council and is the portfolio holder for adult social care and health, responded to the move to ask people to ring NHS 111 first. She said:
“I think this move is due to immense pressure in our health and care system at the moment, and is seen as being more equitable, as the rest of the county has been using this system for some time.”