Neil Carr explained to the Panel that the NHS was still operating at the highest level of alert due to critical pressures on both the Health and Social Care system. Infection rates had stabilsed and reduced, the vaccination programme was extremely effective and fewer people had required intensive care. There was still some uncertainty around the virus over the next few months. The Trust was now in a position to make some conditional commitments to the Panel on the re-opening of Leek Minor injuries (MIU), when assured it can be done safely across the system.
Reopening Leek MIU will depend on the following points:
The Panel was given assurance that the MIU would re-open by the end of June, as long as certain criteria were met. Should there be another surge in the number of patients requiring treatment for Covid-19, then staff may need to be re-deployed again.
Members were advised that the Trust was now in a position to progress it’s own capital plans at pace and Leek Moorlands hospital had been prioritised. A senior leader had been appointed to lead on the engagement on the types of facilities at the Integrated Care Hub.
The following queries were made by councillors: -
Royal Stoke Minor Injuries Unit – A piece of work was being carried out with partners to look at alternatives to enable Leek MIU to re-open.
Staffing issues, recruitment and training – It was confirmed that the service was at full establishment, staffing was always a challenge to maintain a service which was relatively isolated and the Trust would continue to flex the provision to be able to respond to operational challenges. It was a particular challenge to recruit to urgentcare, given the level of skill needed by these nurses. Existing staff were highly trained skilled employees and a work force development plan was in place.
Opening hours of Leek MIU – The reduction in opening hours would be at the Haywood Walk-in Centre to revert to pre-covid opening times.
Redeployment of staff and staff retention – A large amount of recruitment had been undertaken during the winter and the Trust had received a good response to job adverts. A significant number of qualified nurses had been recruited and a number of high quality care workers had also applied for posts. The pandemic had given the opportunity to bring in different people, work in a more agile manner, increase staff retention and advanced nurse practitioners had continued to enhance their skills. Staff sickness had reduced, staff morale had improved and a staff opinion survey would soon be publicly available. There may future requirements to redeploy staff dependent on clinical need.
Members were given assurance that there were sufficient staff to enable the MIU to re-open as planned but should circumstances change, it may be necessary to review this situation due to operational pressures.
Breakdown of X-Ray Facility – The officers agreed this facility should be available and diagnostic facilities would be a key element in the development of the Integrated Care Hub in Leek.
The Trust would be guided nationally around the ‘R’ Rate. Members were also advised that a reduction in activity had been seen in March 2020 across all of the services provided by MPFT and not just at Leek MIU.
The Chair thanked the officers for the update.