HEXHAM’S MP has hit out at the management team at Hexham General Hospital after it was announced the overnight urgent care centre would close yet again.

Last week Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust announced that it had taken the decision to suspend the service overnight between 10pm and 8am. The news came only three weeks after it was reopened after being suspended in July. When it was reopened, patients were asked to contact NHS111 to speak to an adviser, who would point them to the appropriate service, instead of being able to use Hexham as a walk-in service.

Marion Dickson, chief operating officer for surgery, clinical support and child health at the trust admitted last week that the changes had caused confusion for patients, and that staffing pressures had continued to cause problems. She said: “We are speaking with the Clinical Commissioning Groups to see if there are alternative ways to do things, but we don’t want to be open one night and closed the next, which would be confusing for people. We did it with the best intentions a few weeks ago and we are glad we did try it, but we have not been able to operate it sustainably.”

Ms Dickson said that while nurse practitioners had been available on wards to attend the urgent care centre when needed, the trust was coping with a shortage of emergency nurse practitioners.

Hexham’s MP Guy Opperman said: “This is fundamentally about a lack of management. The trust needs to allocate their resources to fulfil the commitments it made in 2008 when Cramlington was built and assurances were made in relation to Hexham Hospital. The hospital is an outstanding hospital with exceptional services in so many different ways, but the management, in particular Jim Mackey (chief executive), needs to step up to the plate and sort this out.”