Hours temporarily cut at South Tyneside District Hospital's urgent care for children service to cope with ‘unforeseen staffing challenges'

Hospital chiefs are alerting parents and carers to a temporary change of opening hours for South Tyneside’s ‘Urgent Care for Children’ service.

It came after children’s A&E hours were cut in 2019, with the previously 24-hour service reducing to operating from 8am to 10pm only – hours were retained in the switch to the urgent care unit model.

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Children in need of emergency medical assistance overnight must to travel to Sunderland Royal Hospital instead.

South Tyneside District Hospital.

However, the South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust has announced a temporary change to the opening hours of the South Shields urgent care unit.

With effect from Monday 7 March, the nurse-led service will open one hour later at 9am (instead of 8am) and close one hour earlier each day at 9pm (instead of 10pm).

The Trust said it was reassuring parents the service will continue to be available for 12 hours every day to ‘see and treat the vast majority of children who attend hospital with urgent, but not life-threatening, problems’.

Bosses said the temporary change is as the Trust manages some ‘immediate and unforeseen staffing challenges within the paediatric nursing workforce’.

They say it has been welcomed by nursing staff to help ease pressure on the workforce.

The Trust said GPs, NHS 111 and the North East Ambulance Service were being made aware of the temporary change, and there will be targeted information for schools and parents or carers of young children across the borough.

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Dr Shaz Wahid, medical director at the trust, said: “Our paediatric nursing team at South Tyneside District Hospital will continue to be available every day from 9am until 9pm and this temporary change will affect a very small number of children.

"We hope to resume our normal operating hours as soon as the immediate staffing issues are resolved and I would like to thank all staff within the paediatric team for their ongoing support.

“As always, we would remind people to call NHS 111 if they need urgent medical advice about their child and, of course, dial 999 in a life-threatening emergency."

Cases dealt with by the urgent unit include:

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:: Broken bones

:: Children who have mild breathing problems

:: Common childhood infections in the chest, ears or throat

:: Children who are being sick or have diarrhoea

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:: Cuts and open wounds that need closing

:: Minor burns

:: Minor bumps or head injuries

:: Sprained ankles or strained muscles.

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