Local health campaigners have welcomed the news that the Hywel Dda University Health Board will go ahead with plans to create a primary and community ‘walk-in’ nurse-led service at Tenby Hospital following a successful pilot in the town last year.
At a meeting of the Board on Thursday, it was agreed that the Hywel Dda University organisation will support the development of a ‘walk-in’ service at the facility at Gas Lane, in collaboration with Tenby GP Practice.
Following a review of a successful 10-day pilot that ran over the Easter period in 2016, the Health Board agreed to commission a business case for a walk-in service on a year-round basis to provide convenient access to a range of treatments for minor illnesses and injuries with care provided by Advanced Nurse Practitioners (ANPs).
Advanced nurse practitioners are highly-skilled health care professionals with expert knowledge and who can offer advanced care and treatment directly to patients, or refer to other appropriate services where necessary.
Whilst it has taken some time to reach this stage, it was important to ensure that the business case went through the Health Board governance processes.
Jill Paterson, interim director of commissioning, primary care and therapies and health sciences, at Hywel Dda UHB, said: “The Health Board is pleased to announce the decision to commission this new service in Tenby. Whilst there are some practical arrangements to address such as staff recruitment, we hope that the full service will be operational by the summer. In the interim, the Health Board will put in place a service over the Easter period.
An implementation group will be established by the vice-chair of the Health Board, Mrs. Judith Hardisty, to oversee the implementation of the walk–in service, and ensure that timescales are met.
During the 10-day Easter pilot in 2016, which was open from 10 am - 6 pm, a total of 180 patients were seen. Treatment and care was provided to 142 of those patients within the service itself, 31 were referred for follow-up with their own GP or practice nurse, three needed further investigations, two patients did not wait to be seen and two were referred to be seen in secondary care (hospital-based services). Most of those attending were local residents, with a smaller number of visitors.
The most common presentations were for infections and inflammation or for pain management, all of which are well within the capability of nurse practitioners.
During the pilot, the ongoing community pharmacy triage and treat scheme, which offers a minor injury assessment and treatment service from participating pharmacies, was also running.
The Health Board will be commissioning a third sector provider to provide this first aid service in Tenby once again at Easter, whilst the year-round service is established. More information about the Easter service will be shared by the Health Board closer to the time.
Commenting on the news, chairman of the South East Pembrokeshire Community Health Network, Mansel Thomas, said: “Following discussion at the Hywel Dda University Health Board meeting, there was agreement to the case and we’re delighted that the scheme is to proceed.
“The scheme will support the GP practice and it is planned as a model which can be replicated across the rest of the Hywel Dda University Health Board area,” he commented.
Regional Assembly Member Eluned Morgan has also welcomed the approval of the business case that could see an end to uncertainty over primary care provision and enhanced care for visitors to South East Pembrokeshire.
Labour AM for Mid and West Wales Eluned Morgan said the setting-up of an implementation board which will include members of the local community sends the right message about ensuring that services are as local to communities as possible.
“This is just the sort of innovative collaboration between primary care and community services that myself and my Labour colleagues in South Pembrokeshire have been calling for,” she said.
“It ensures that, once again, patients will get the care they need quickly without the need to travel long distances
“I’m pleased that the Health Board will involve the local community, who have campaigned for so long to see a sustainable service developed for local patients. This is something Labour supported local health campaigners on over the last few years, arranging for the Health Minister to visit Tenby last year to hear local concerns for himself.
“I was also pleased that the during the Health Board meeting last week, the Health Board gave an indication that it will be looking at enhancing the range of outpatients services available at South Pembrokeshire Hospital in Pembroke Dock,” she added.
Plaid Cymru Assembly Member Simon Thomas welcomed the backing by Health Board chiefs for the re-opening of the walk-in service too: “Plaid Cymru has fought a long campaign locally and nationally for better health services and the reintroduction of walk-in service at Tenby Hospital.
“I have consistently raise the issue of the Minor Injuries Unit at Tenby in the Assembly chamber. Only this week I put pressure on the Labour Government to deliver on re-opening the unit,” he said.
For the latest news and updates from Hywel Dda University Health Board visit www.hywelddahb.wales.nhs.uk