HEALTH MATTERS: By Jenny Hinchliffe, Head of Clinical Services for the South at Lincolnshire Community Health Services NHS Trust
Some of the most common questions we get asked about our services in South Holland are about our Minor Injuries Unit at Johnson Community Hospital in Spalding.
Is it the same as an Accident and Emergency (A&E) department? Who can we see and what can we treat?
I hope that firstly you will all agree this is a fantastic facility to have in our community and the number of patients we have seen since it opened has steadily increased each year.
We are not an A&E, with the fundamental difference being the level of medical care we provide. We do not have doctors or consultants treating patients in the department, and instead our service is run by highly trained and experienced emergency nurse practitioners.
We are open from 8am to 6pm every day and are able to see adults and children with minor injuries, who will be assessed, diagnosed and treated in the department.
The commonest injuries tend to be ankle sprains or breaks, wrist and upper limb injuries, children with head injuries, or foreign bodies which have found their way into people’s eyes.
We can also treat minor cuts, minor burns and scalds, insect and animal bites, and muscular back problems.
If patients are found to need more complicated treatments or fall outside of what the department can offer, they will be referred onto either primary care services (such as your own GP) or secondary care (such as our bigger, acute hospitals in the county where they have a full A&E department or medical admissions wards).
By having a Minor Injuries Unit in Spalding we can support both our patients and our local A&E services.
I’m sure many of you will have seen on both the national and regional news the pressure A&E services face, particularly through the winter when vulnerable people can be more susceptible.
Minor Injuries Units like ours can help take some of that strain off by supporting patients with less serious injuries, meaning A&E facilities can use their resources for those who really need it.
You will often find the waiting times for Minor Injuries Units are shorter, although due to the nature of emergency care, departments can still have busy periods. You could also save yourself a journey to Boston or Peterborough by making use of this service in your community.
The department hosts a fracture clinic, supported by local GPs, on a Tuesday and Friday, again saving you a potentially lengthy journey when you might not be feeling at your best.
Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of our patients, their family, carers and the wider community for their support for all of our staff and services in South Holland in 2014. I hope you have a merry Christmas and a happy and healthy New Year. We look forward to looking after you in 2015.