THREE casualty units in the North east of Scotland had to be closed or up to ten hours at the weekend because of staff shortages, it was revealed today.
The minor injury units at Peterhead Community Hospital, Kincardine Community Hospital in Stonehaven, and Chalmers Hospital in Banff were forced to shut temporarily after a series of “unforeseen” and unrelated incidents involving staff on Saturday night
And NHS Grampian today announced the health authority would be examining their contingency plans as a matter of urgency following the three temporary closures.
The unit at Peterhead had to be closed between 7.55pm on Saturday and 7.30am on Sunday because of a staff shortage. And the minor injuries units at Chalmers Hospital and Kincardine Community Hospital were both closed for ten hours from 10pm on Saturday to 8am on Sunday due to “unforeseen staff sickness and unforeseen compassionate leave.”
An NHS Grampian spokesman said: “The units closed as a consequence of three unrelated incidents involving staff. One member of staff was involved in a car accident on the way to work, the second had to take unexpected bereavement leave and the third was due to illness.
“Every effort was made to obtain appropriately trained replacement staff, but regrettably none were available at short notice. Therefore, the decision was made, for safety reasons, that people coming to the units would be directed to call NHS 24 for advice or to visit the neighbouring Turriff MIU for Banff or ARI Emergency Department for Stonehaven. We are not aware of anyone coming directly to either of the MIUs during that period.
“NHS 24, Aberdeen Royal Infirmary and Fraserburgh Hospital reported no extra pressure overnight into Sunday morning.”
He stressed: ““These are not A&E departments. Minor injury units deal with conditions such as sprains, burns, and minor ailments. All other agencies – the ambulance service, G Med and NHS 24 – were notified of the situation and report no increase in activity. Ward nurses would have assisted anyone who turned up seeking urgent medical attention.
“The eleven other units in Aberdeenshire and Moray operated as normal. All fourteen are now fully operational again.”
The spokesman continued: “We are addressing the issue with urgency today, examining our contingency plans thoroughly, and reviewing our staffing capacity on the site to ensure we have additional provision and agreements in place to respond to such unusual events.
“We take the temporary closures very seriously and are working on measures to avoid any recurrence at these MIUs. We apologise for any inconvenience that may have been caused for residents.”