Has Hemel Hempstead Urgent Care Centre ALREADY stopped 24-hour service?

Hemel Hempstead Hospital buildings
Hemel Hempstead Hospital buildings

A notice on the door of Hemel Hempstead Hospital suggests the closure “has come early” after health bosses announced overnight care will stop from this weekend.

It was confirmed this week that the 24/7 service, which treats people with ailments such as broken bones and minor head injuries, will only open from 8am-10pm as of Friday.

The notice on the door

The notice on the door

Health bosses blamed a shortage of qualified doctors who are prepared to work there overnight.

But the doors were locked last night and a message stuck to the door explained the centre would not be open until 8am this morning.

“The weekend has come early,” said Edie Glatter, vice-chairman of the Dacorum Hospital Action Group (DHAG). “I was very surprised, I don’t understand it.

“It’s surprising because I’ve been there at 9.30pm and there’s always a crowd of people. I can’t see how they’re getting through everyone by 10pm.

“My suspicion is that it won’t be open tonight either. I don’t know how hard they are really trying.”

She added: “I’ve never accepted the short-staff story. It’s either blamed on not enough staff or not enough patients. Actually it’s not enough money.”

The news caps a miserable year for healthcare in Hertfordshire.

Just last week the Clinical Commissioning Group announced it was cutting £8.5million of funding for measures to stop bed-blocking in hospital.

Councillor Colette Wyatt-Lowe, cabinet member for adult care and health at Herts County Council, warned that this cut could be “catastrophic”.

Also last week, the Gazette reported that the CCG was put into financial turnaround by NHS England, after admitting that they will not be able to balance the books.

Meanwhile regional health leaders are continuing to press ahead with plans to remove services from Hemel Hempstead Hospital and concentrate their resources on improving St Albans and Watford Hospital.

This is despite widespread support for building a new hospital between all three sites on greenbelt land.

The Herts Valleys Clinical Commissioning Group has been contacted for comment.