PERFORMANCE: Wye Valley Trust is to reduce the hours of its two minor injuries units from 24 to nine hours a day to protect the safety of patients and staff working alone.

The units, at Ross-on-Wye and Leominster community hospitals, are operated by staff who mainly work in wards. Staff members often have to work alone or in pairs when patients arrive for treatment during the night.

A review of the service has found that this places members of staff at risk, can leave the wards short of staff and has the potential to compromise the clinical safety of patients in the units.

From last Monday (1 October), both units will be open from 8.30am to 5.30pm on Mondays to Fridays – the same as local GP surgeries which provide the local medical cover to the MIUs.

Ross-on-Wye MIU received an average of 24 people a month last year during the out-of-hours period, and in Leominster the figure was just 12.

Peter Wilson, Wye Valley’s medical director, said: “For the vast majority of the 8,000 visits we can expect at the two MIUs this year it will be business as normal.

“Anyone needing treatment out of hours will have access to the full range of services provided at the county hospital’s accident and emergency department, although there are alternatives such as the local pharmacy and using NHS Direct.”

Wye Valley paused its application for foundation trust status earlier this year because of growing financial problems. The trust started this financial year with a £15m budget deficit and has drawn up a programme to reduce costs by £5.5m.

It has sought financial help from the Midlands and East strategic health authority cluster to close the remaining £9.5m gap.