OVERNIGHT urgent care at Hexham General Hospital will not return for at least three months.

Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust’s chief operating officer Helen Ray admitted at this week’s Northumberland County Council’s health and wellbeing committee meeting that there would continue to be no urgent care facility between 10pm and 8am for the next three to six months, at least.

After a failed attempt to resume the service in October, the overnight care was again suspended in November due to ‘severe staffing pressures’.

At Tuesday’s committee meeting, Mrs Ray said there currently were not enough specialist nurses, described as equivalent to junior doctor level, to be able to staff all of the sites.

“We made repeated efforts to keep it open but, with scarce resources, we have to base that where our busiest centres are,” she said.

“The solution is to ‘grow our own’, but the training programme lasts three years, so this is not going to provide an immediate response. I can’t see Hexham’s overnight urgent care service opening for the next three to six months because of staffing issues.”