STRUCTURE: Accident and emergency services at the Queen Elizabeth II Hospital in Welwyn are to be reduced overnight as East and North Hertfordshire Trust continues with a major reconfiguration.

From 16 January, the A&E will treat minor injuries only overnight, with more serious cases going to the Lister Hospital in Stevenage. Children over one will also be seen round-the-clock for minor injuries but more serious cases will have to go to the Lister.

Up to now the QEII has offered some emergency services for children but only during the day with all overnight cases going to the Lister.  

The move comes after several services were relocated to the Lister - including emergency surgery, cardiac and stroke services. This has meant there are fewer doctors on duty at the hospital overnight.

The trust’s medical director James Quinn said this meant there was a ‘clinical risk’ if more serious cases continued to be directed to the QEII.

The trust insists it has always said that interim measures might be needed as it carries out the £150m reconfiguration, which will see most acute services concentrated in Stevenage. A rebuilt QEII will have a PCT-run “local A&E” in place in 2014.

An NHS Hertfordshire spokesperson said the full specification for this was still being worked on but it was likely to involve GP input and would be different from the interim service.