More than half of North Wales to access NHS differently in future because of COVID-19
The majority of North Wales residents will access NHS services differently in future due to COVID-19, according to a YouGov study.
The study found 40% will carry on usually as opposed to 60% who questioned plans to support new NHS systems introduced over the past 12 months for safety and social distancing.
As part of the Welsh Government’s ‘Help Us, Help You’ campaign, Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (BCUHB) is encouraging people to attend Minor Injury Units (MIUs) rather than Emergency Departments.
There are nine MIUs situated across North Wales in Holyhead, Dolgellau, Pwllheli, Tywyn, Llandudno, Holywell, Denbigh, Mold and Tremadog.
Trevor Hubbard, Area Nurse Director for the Central region of BCUHB, says there have been advances in how they operate urgent care services, changing the thinking of staff and patients.
“Accessing in a different way is becoming the ‘new normal’ and it is there to protect the public and the NHS from unnecessary exposure to COVID-19 infection,” said Mr Hubbard.
“The situation has accelerated the use of digital technology so we can manage our services going forward in a positive way.
“Taking MIUs as an example; attendances are lower than Emergency Departments, but patients are nearly always seen, treated and discharged within four hours, with a minimal wait and experienced practitioners offering clinical support and advice directly – the patient experience is very good.”
He added: “I think people in North Wales are aware of MIUs and what they offer, but we do need to shout a little louder about the services they provide.
“It is so important we make sure MIUs are used to reduce pressure on our already busy EDs; they are there for emergencies only so I would ask everyone to consider the other options open to them, including pharmacies, the NHS 111 Wales website and by calling for advice if the condition is urgent but not serious.”
The YouGov study also found 93% of people surveyed in Wales were aware of A&E and the 999 service, compared to 69% aware of MIUs.
While 93% believed MIUs to be important, 89% have not used the service in the last 12 months.
Mr Hubbard said: “MIUs have very experienced practitioners able to manage a wide range of injuries, they are highly trained and competent staff offering an excellent level of care.
“They are able to request and interpret x-rays and diagnose and treat a variety of conditions all based locally to prevent you travelling long distances to an ED.”
He added: “In North Wales we do have a lot of visitors from across the UK and overseas that are not necessarily used to what an MIU is, how it works and what conditions can be treated there.
“I also think there are differences between individual units and the walk-in centre model in England, which has a broader remit to include illness as well as injury.
“We are working to address this by training our staff to manage a wider variety of conditions, and we will continue to encourage people to please call in advance so you can receive first aid advice and an appointment time to be seen quickly and efficiently by the team without the need to wait – for their safety, and yours.”
For more information on how best to access NHS services, visit www.111.wales.nhs.uk or call 0845 46 47.
Visit www.bcuhb.nhs.wales/health-services/health-services1/where-do-i-go/minor-injury-units/minor-injury-units1 for the latest news and information on BCUHB’s MIUs. Spotted something? Got a story? Send a Facebook Message | A direct message on Twitter | Email: News@Deeside.com