Urgent care overhaul plans at two south west Wales hospitals
Plans to overhaul urgent care services at two hospitals have been put forward.
Abertawe Bro Morgannwg health board is proposing cutting the opening times of minor injury units at Singleton and Neath Port Talbot hospitals.
The unit at Singleton could also merge with three other services which treat patients who are not 999 emergencies but who still need urgent care.
The health board said the systems at both hospitals do not work well and the plans would "better meet demand".
It will begin consulting with the public over the plans in the next few weeks.
Currently, Singleton's minor injury unit sees about 30 patients a day, mainly during daytime hours.
The unit at Neath Port Talbot has about 120 patients during the day but just three on average after midnight.
Proposals for Singleton include:
- the acute GP unit (AGU), the assessment unit, minor injury unit and ambulatory emergency care (AEC) could be combined into a single team operating from one urgent care centre
- opening hours of the AGU and AEC unit would extend to 20:00 on weekdays
- the AGU would open for the first time on Saturdays, Sundays and bank holidays between 08:00 and 13:00
- the minor injury unit would close at 13:00 rather than 20:00 on weekends.
Proposals for Neath Port Talbot:
- the minor injury unit is currently open 24/7 but opening times could be cut to 07:30 to 23:00
- overnight patients would instead be able to use Morriston or the Princess of Wales emergency departments.
Dr Chris Hudson, the health board's clinical director of medicine and unscheduled care, said: "We believe these are common sense changes we can make which will really make an improvement to the service we can offer, particularly around managing times of peak demand.
"Working together in one team [at Singleton] will provide a more timely service and a much improved experience for patients.
"It will also have a positive effect for patients at other hospitals like Morriston, because it will reduce pressure on that hospital."
Claire Birchall, Neath Port Talbot Hospital's unit service director, added: "As the patient numbers are increasing this means that people who are waiting to be seen can also wait longer, and we appreciate that this can be frustrating.
"We want to improve the quality of our service by making sure we have more staff available when we know more people will be attending."