Health trust introduces new minor injuries unit, senior doctor around the clock and other measures to help meet demand for the service.

A RAFT of changes to tackle waiting times, including a new minor injuries unit, is being introduced to the accident and emergency department in Barnstaple.

Northern Devon Healthcare Trust says it has introduced a number of projects at North Devon District Hospital, aimed at improving the flow of patients through A and E.

This includes a nurse-led minor injury area within the department, a discharge lounge plus launch of a Home Before Lunch campaign, aimed at discharging more patients by midday.

The department is to be redesigned as part of an Emergency Hub project, which the trust says will help to significantly improve the flow of patients with minor injuries or illnesses and improve the environment for those with more serious conditions.

The distribution of medical and surgical beds will also be altered, to ensure more are available.

From September, a senior doctor will be present in the emergency department around the clock.

The news was announced following a national report by MPs on the Health Select Committee, who claimed A and E departments across the country were 'in crisis' due to lack of staffing and rising attendance.

"We, like trusts across the country, faced unprecedented levels of demand in our A and E department last winter and we have already put plans in place to help us prepare for next winter and enhance our approach to urgent and emergency care," said medical director Dr Alison Diamond.

"These developments will help to ensure we continue to meet high demand on the service and improve the experience, privacy and dignity of patients.

"We have an innovative approach to consultant rosters to ensure we have a consultant present for at least 12 hours a day, seven days a week, during peak season.

"Our A and E waiting times, seen within four hours, have been and remain among the lowest in the south of England, which is positive for patients, and I would like to thank our staff for all their hard work in challenging circumstances.

"We continue to ask people to choose well in terms of where they seek treatment - and support the national NHS Choose Well campaign."