Use your local minor injuries unit to avoid A&E this winter
Health experts across Devon are reminding people about the help available if they have a minor injury during Christmas.
Generally, GP practices close during the weekends and festive bank holidays, but there are alternatives for non-emergency conditions – leaving hospital accident and emergency departments free to deal with the most serious cases.
The best place for urgent but not life-threatening injuries is the local minor injuries unit (MIU) or walk-in centre (WIC), and you don’t need an appointment. They can treat a range of minor injuries, including:
- Small burns or scalds
- Bites and stings
- Sprains and certain fractures
- Minor head injuries
- Infected wounds
- Foreign bodies in eyes
- Itchy rashes
The best place to seek help is your local MIU
Dr John Womersley, a GP in Ilfracombe and chair of the Northern Locality of NHS Northern, Eastern and Western Devon Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “We hope everyone has a happy and healthy Christmas and New Year but accidents can happen which people may need treatment for.
“If it’s not life-threatening, the best place to seek help is your local MIU. The medical staff who run the units are skilled at treating a wide range of minor injuries and conditions. You don’t need an appointment and you’ll avoid a potentially long wait at A&E.”
Where are my local units?
In Northern Devon, the units at Bideford, Ilfracombe and Lynton are open every day except Christmas Day. However, x-ray facilities are not available at all times, so please contact the MIU direct for further details.
There are eight units across Eastern Devon: five MIUs at Exmouth Community Hospital, Honiton Community Hospital, Beacon Medical Centre in Sidmouth, Okehampton Medical Centre and Axminster Medical Practice; two WICs in Exeter – at the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital (RD&E) and St Sidwell Street; and one urgent care centre (UCC) at Tiverton and District Hospital.
The units at the RD&E and Tiverton and will be open on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. Tiverton has an urgent care centre (UCC) which is also able to treat the conditions above. However, opening hours for x-ray at Tiverton and Honiton vary, so please contact the MIU directly for further details.
In Western Devon there are three MIUs: the Cumberland Centre in Devonport; Tavistock Hospital and South Hams Hospital.
In South Devon and Torbay there are three MIUs – at Dawlish, Newton Abbot and Totnes community hospitals.
All three units will be open throughout the Christmas holidays. However, opening hours for x-ray at each hospital varies over the festive period, so please contact the MIU directly for further details.
Waiting times are likely to be shorter
Dr Adam Reuben, consultant emergency physician at the RD&E, said: “We have been working hard to ensure that the MIUs are fully equipped with the skills and resources needed to offer the high-quality treatment our patients expect for a whole range of minor injuries.
“They can be a great alternative to busy hospital emergency departments and waiting times are likely to be shorter.”
You don’t need an appointment
Diane Oliver, matron at the Cumberland Centre, said: “If you or your loved ones find yourself with a minor injury this winter, don’t forget that you can visit us at the Cumberland Centre. You don’t need an appointment and you shouldn’t have to wait very long to be seen.
“Our nursing staff have received specialist training to enable them to see and treat patients for a number of conditions.
“We also have an x-ray facility to help us diagnose any broken bones (arms and legs only) that we can then treat with a plaster cast if necessary.”
The best place to get advice and treatment is your local MIU
Dr Rob Dyer, medical director at Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We hope everyone has a healthy, injury-free Christmas, but if people have a medical need over the holiday season that needs urgent attention, the best place to get advice and treatment is their local MIU.
“They are run by staff who are trained to treat a range of conditions, from a sprain to a fractured bone, and they’ll normally be seen much quicker there than at A&E.
“Avoiding A&E leaves it free to help people with really serious and life-threatening conditions.
NHSquicker – our new waiting times app
To help people choose the right service and reduce time spent waiting for treatment, NHSquicker is a free app available for smartphones and tablets on Apple and Android.
NHSquicker shows up-to-date waiting times for local emergency departments and minor injuries units, based on your location, helping you to decide where to go.
You can also use the app to find information about less-urgent NHS services, such as GP practices, pharmacies, sexual health services, dentists and opticians.
NHS 111 helpline
Alternatively, call the free NHS 111 helpline. It is manned 24 hours a day, every day, and the trained staff will advise you of the best treatment for your needs.
This is important if your young child is unwell, because MIUs are generally not equipped to treat children under the age of two.