A health centre in Selby for people who need urgent medical attention is so understaffed that patient safety and the wellbeing of staff are feared to be at risk.
Health bosses have scheduled a meeting to discuss the problems facing Selby Urgent Treatment Centre (UTC) after a review found staff shortages were “impacting on service resilience, potential patient safety, and the health and wellbeing of staff”.
The centre, based in the Selby War Memorial Hospital, is GP-led and is meant to be open at least 12 hours a day, every day, treating patients in need of urgent, but not life-saving, medical attention.
But updates on the UTC Facebook page show that on at least nine occasions this year, the centre has either been operating a reduced service or has had to limit its opening hours, with “severe staff shortages” to blame.
The centre has frequently urged people with minor injuries not to attend, often suggesting patients seek out other services, including accident and emergency departments – despite UTCs being set up to ease pressure on A&E.
The service is provided by Harrogate and District NHS Foundation Trust, but relies on York and Scarborough Teaching Hospitals for some services, including radiology and IT systems.
The Vale of York Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) carried out the review of UTC.
CCG board papers state: “During the pandemic a ‘light touch’ approach was taken to contract management and therefore limited in terms of depth of understanding regarding performance, quality and safety.”
The CCG has now called for an “urgent meeting” to “gain greater understanding of current issues, risks, mitigating actions and next steps.”
The service, previously Selby Minor Injuries Unit, was designated as a UTC in 2019.
Appointments at UTCs can be booked through 111 or through a GP referral.
According to NHS England, they are designed to ease the pressure on hospitals, leaving other parts of the system free to treat the most serious cases.
A spokesperson for the Harrogate Trust said: “Selby Urgent Treatment Centre is a high performing service, which consistently delivers 98% – 100% performance against the national four hour waiting time target.
“We are experiencing an increased level of demand which is putting pressure on this service and we welcome the discussions which are planned with commissioners to support maintaining a high quality service and looking after the health and well-being of our staff.”
The Vale of York CCG was replaced by the Humber, Coast and Vale Integrated Care System (ICS) at the start of the month.