New DRI unit for the minor injuries

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Emergency teams at Doncaster Royal Infirmary will be diverting patients who don’t actually need to be seen in A&E to the most appropriate way for them to receive care this winter.

A new minor injuries unit at DRI opens today and is staffed by experienced emergency nurse practitioners who can assess, diagnose and treat a wide range of ailments including cuts, sprains and some simple fractures.

The MIU will be open from 8am to 7pm, seven days a week, and will enable staff in the Emergency Department to focus on the most seriously unwell patients.

There will also be an enhanced triage system for people who make their own way to the Emergency Department and haven’t been referred there by their GP. They will be assessed by an experienced emergency nurse practitioner or a GP specialising in emergency care.

Patients who do not need emergency hospital care will be signposted to more appropriate services including their GP, the out-of-hours GP service or a local pharmacy, and given a copy of their assessment and a plan for their future needs.

A copy will also be sent to their GP and no-one will leave the ED without a care plan.

The ED at Doncaster has already seen record numbers of patients in 2012, with as many as 328 patients on some days.

Yet an audit in September found that more than 20 per cent of people attending the ED didn’t actually need emergency hospital treatment - including people who attended with non-blistering sunburn, a sore finger that had lasted two weeks, and a five-month history of knee pain that hadn’t worsened.

Dr Juan Ballesteros, clinical director for A&E, said: “We’ve been exceptionally busy in the ED and the cold weather, combined with an ageing population, mean we are seeing increasing numbers of patients who are extremely unwell.

“We hope people in Doncaster will support us in keeping the ED for emergencies only.”