BROMSGROVE’s Princess of Wales Community Hospital has seen a significant rise in the number of ‘inappropriate’ patients attending its minor injuries unit (MIU), due to residents struggling to see their GPs.
GP surgeries across the district are still battling to cut down waiting times, with some now stretched to nearly four weeks for a simple routine appointment.
It means more and more people are visiting the Stourbridge Road MIU, which aims to alleviate pressure from the county’s A&Es, when they shouldn’t be.
Worcestershire Health and Care NHS Trust chairman Chris Burdon raised the issue, which he claims to have witnessed firsthand, at a public board meeting on May 10.
He said: “There has been a significant increase in the number of referrals to Princess of Wales and quite a few of those are inappropriate, both in terms of medical contact that should have been dealt with through general practice, and some that should have gone to A&E.
“It illustrates the nationwide struggle to get GP appointments at the moment. People think, actually I’ll just go to MIU and get my prescription there instead of waiting days for an appointment. We need to look at this across the trust and make sure it isn’t a common issue.”
The Advertiser recently revealed that almost half of surgery patients in Bromsgrove said they had waited ‘too long’ to see a GP.
Bromsgrove District Councillor June Griffiths stressed that something had to be done to improve services, while the health and scrutiny panel likened the battle over seeing a GP to “survival of the fittest” and called the process of booking a doctors’ appointment a “convoluted lottery”.
Last year alone, Bromsgrove’s MIU treated more than 12,000 patients, and this number is expected to rise further in 2017.
Dawn Shaw, minor injuries unit lead at Princess of Wales, said: “There are times when people will present at MIU for things we can’t treat, for example with ailments and illnesses such as coughs or colds, and instead people should self-care these sorts of things themselves, visit a pharmacist or, if necessary, see their GP.
“Use of our MIU is increasing and they play a really important role in alleviating pressure from A&E and in ensuring access to quick and convenient treatment for minor injuries.”
More evening appointments for GP surgeries will be rolled out across north Worcestershire in 2018 and 2019. Waiting times for all GP practices will also be published online for the first time later this year.
Bromsgrove's MIU is equipped to treat sprains, strains, broken bones, wound infections, minor burns, scalds, head and eye injuries, insect and animal bites, as well as back, shoulder or chest injuries.
Residents suffering with chest and stomach pain, breathing difficulties, gynaecological or pregnancy problems, allergic reactions, overdoses, alcohol-related and mental health issues are advised to go straight to A&E.
Ear aches, sore throats and rashes can be dealt with by a GP - as long as you can get an appointment.
For advice on where to go, call NHS 111.