Due to on-going severe staffing pressures, Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust has made the difficult decision to suspend the overnight urgent care service at Hexham General Hospital from 10pm tomorrow (Friday 2 November 2018).

The decision – made as a last resort and following repeated efforts to keep it open – means that from Friday 2 November 2018 the service will not be operational between 10pm and 8am each day until further notice.

This will affect a small number of people as, on average, fewer than two people attend overnight.

People needing medical advice or care between 10pm and 8am should ring NHS 111 where trained advisors will refer them to the most appropriate service. If it is an emergency, people should contact 999.

The urgent care centre will continue to operate as normal – as a walk-in service – between 8am and 10pm.

In July, the trust suspended overnight provision due to staffing pressures among its highly-trained specialist nursing team which deliver the urgent care service. The service did reopen earlier this month however the trust has continued to face severe workforce challenges which now prevent the service from being operational overnight.

Marion Dickson, chief operating officer for surgery, clinical support and child health at Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We would like to reassure the public that over the last three weeks we have done everything we can to run a safe and consistent urgent care service at Hexham overnight.

“Time and time again our staff have gone above and beyond to help us do this, and overcome the severe staffing pressures we face, and we would like to thank them all for their efforts. Despite our best efforts, it has now come to the stage where we have exhausted all possibilities and must, reluctantly, make this difficult decision.

“We fully understand that the local community will be disappointed – even angry –however, we must not, and will not, compromise on patient safety. We pride ourselves in providing the highest standards of care to our patients and running a safe service overnight is, at present, not an option.

“Our priority must always be to run services where there is most demand from patients and we simply do not have the staff to operate a service overnight while keeping it going during the day to cater for the thousands of people who attend between 8am and 10pm.

“We would like to apologise to the public for any inconvenience and the recent inconsistency in our service and would urge people to make use of NHS 111 should they need urgent medical advice overnight.”

The trust is discussing the options for this service moving forward with NHS Northumberland Clinical Commissioning Group and will update the public as soon as it is in a position to do so.