Hemel Hempstead’s Urgent Care Centre will no longer operate overnight, it was announced today.
The 24/7 service, which treats people with ailments such as broken bones and minor head injuries, has had to close several times in recent months, with little or no notice to the public.
It will now only open from 8am-10pm until further notice.
Health bosses have blamed a shortage of qualified doctors who are prepared to work there overnight.
Katie Fisher, chief executive of West Hertfordshire Hospitals, said: “Patient safety is our priority which is why we are making this decision.
“It is better to be clear about the times the Urgent Care Centre is open rather than find ourselves faced with shifts that can’t be filled and the prospect of patients travelling to the centre only to find it closed.”
Until today the UCC has been staffed overnight by a doctor, a nurse and a receptionist, with an average of one patient per hour attending overnight.
It is the closest thing Hemel has had to an A&E department since that was closed in 2009.
In the meantime people who need urgent care overnight can call the 24‐hour 111 service which will advise patients on suitable alternative services to meet their needs.
The service will also help patients access the GP out‐of‐hours service to receive treatment overnight or arrange an urgent GP appointment the following day. In the case of serious injury or illness, the NHS 111 service can despatch an ambulance to the patient or advise them on emergency options.
Cameron Ward, interim accountable officer at Herts Valleys Clinical Commissioning Group which oversees healthcare across the area, said: “The issue of the very low number of people using the service overnight is something we will ask local stakeholders to consider as we need to be able to prioritise our resources where they will be able to offer the maximum benefit to patients.
“The withdrawal of the overnight service, although unwelcome, is necessary. Whilst the UCC is currently hard to sustain on a 24 hour basis, we are committed to Hemel Hempstead being the location for a wide range of health services.
“This is why, together with the hospital trust, we are making a strong case for investment in services in Hemel Hempstead.”