A WALK-IN centre will extend its opening hours as A&E waiting times worsen at Queen Alexandra Hospital.
St Mary’s NHS Treatment Centre, in Milton Road, Portsmouth, run by Care UK, will open from 7.30am to 11pm now until Tuesday, January 20.
It normally closes at 10pm.
Local Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), who pay for health services, said the move will ease pressure on the emergency department at QA in Cosham, as high numbers of patients continue to turn up there unnecessarily.
Richard Samuel, speaking on behalf of the Portsmouth, Fareham and Gosport and South Eastern Hampshire CCGs, said: ‘We would yet again remind people that the emergency department is just that – for emergency cases only.
‘It’s not for patients with minor illnesses or injuries who could be seen very appropriately elsewhere, such as the St Mary’s Treatment Centre or the Minor Injuries Units in Gosport or Petersfield.
‘We are very grateful for the support that Care UK is giving us both in terms of its extended opening hours and the extra staffing.
‘The treatment centre is an excellent facility with extra capacity to take more patients.
‘Patients whose conditions are not serious are far more likely to be seen faster than they would at QA, where priority has to be given to the more serious cases.’
Patients arriving at A&E will be seen by medical staff in the usual way, assessed, and the less serious cases will be asked if they would consider going to the treatment centre instead.
But they can remain at QA if they prefer.
As reported, the national A&E benchmark is to see, treat or discharge 95 per cent of patients in four hours.
But latest figures from NHS England show for the week ending Sunday, January 4, Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs QA, managed to do this only 61.5 per cent of the time – the lowest in the past five weeks.
The national average also fell to 79.8 per cent.
CCGs have said in the past three weeks that 2,400 people have been admitted into QA from A&E, which equates to 114 people daily.
St Mary’s can deal with all minor injuries and illnesses, including cuts, bumps and grazes, burns, strains, sprains, bites, ear, throat and minor skin infections, eye conditions, stomach pains and suspected fractures.
People are also encouraged to call NHS 111, which is open around the clock.