DESPITE Hexham General Hospital's overnight urgent care centre being reopened just last month, a decision has been taken to suspend it again. 

Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust has taken the decision to close the overnight urgent care service at Hexham General Hospital from Friday, November 2.

This means the service will not be operational 10pm and 8am each day until further notice.

The trust said the decision will affect "a small number of people" as, on average, fewer than two people attend overnight.

In July, Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust said it would be closing the urgent care centre between 10pm and 8am for at least four weeks.

This was then extended, but the trust announced three weeks ago that it would reopen the centre, with changes.

However, the trust said it has continued to face severe workforce challenges which now prevent it from being operational overnight.

Marion Dickson, chief operating officer for surgery, clinical support and child health at Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We would like to reassure the public that over the last three weeks we have done everything we can to run a safe and consistent urgent care service at Hexham overnight.

“Time and time again our staff have gone above and beyond to help us do this, and overcome the severe staffing pressures we face, and we would like to thank them all for their efforts. Despite our best efforts, it has now come to the stage where we have exhausted all possibilities and must, reluctantly, make this difficult decision.

“We fully understand that the local community will be disappointed – even angry –however, we must not, and will not, compromise on patient safety. We pride ourselves in providing the highest standards of care to our patients and running a safe service overnight is, at present, not an option."

The urgent care centre will continue to operate as normal – as a walk-in service – between 8am and 10pm.

The trust said people needing medical advice or care between 10pm and 8am should ring NHS 111 where trained advisors will refer them to the most appropriate service. In an emergency, people should contact 999.