Almost a third of people (31 percent) in Wales have never heard of a Minor Injury Unit (MIU) and could be missing out on vital access to quality health care – and putting unnecessary pressure upon Accident and Emergency (A&E) departments.
A recent YouGov survey carried out for the Welsh Government’s ‘Help Us, Help You’ campaign shows that almost a third of people are in the dark about MIUs – which offer medical care for adults and children over one years old with sprains, broken bones, wound infections, minor burns and scalds, minor head injuries and back pain, while 93 percent were fully aware of A&E and of the 999 emergency service. This suggests that these avenues were likely to be a first port of call for many people with a range of injuries and health issues.
Trevor Hubbard, Area Nurse Director for the Central region of Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, said: “Attendances are lower at MIUs than Emergency Departments, but patients are nearly always seen, treated and discharged within four hours, with a minimal wait and experienced practitioners offering clinical support and advice directly – the patient experience is very good.
“It is so important we make sure MIUs are used to reduce pressure on our already busy Emergency Departments; they are there for emergencies only so I would ask everyone to consider the other options open to them, including pharmacies, the www.111.wales.nhs.uk website and by calling for advice if the condition is urgent but not serious.”
A contact first scheme is being rolled out across all the health boards in Wales allowing people to phone ahead before visiting MIU or A&E to receive first aid advice and an appointment time, and to make sure they are going to the most appropriate place, saving everyone time and unnecessary travel.
Mr Hubbard continued: “Accessing the NHS in a different way is becoming the ‘new normal’ and it is there to protect the public and the NHS from unnecessary exposure to COVID-19 infection. The situation has accelerated the use of technology so we can manage our services going forward in a positive way.”
For patients who are unsure about where they should attend, the question is, do you have a life-threatening condition? If you show signs of a suspected heart attack, heavy bleeding, or if you are in severe pain, then A&E is likely to be the best option.
If you have a minor illness or injury and it cannot wait until your GP is open, you can visit a walk-in MIU. Before Covid and social distancing, MIUs would typically see a lot of sporting injuries particularly at the weekends – sprains and pulled muscles or injures that required X-rays. These can all be dealt with at MIUs and there are 20 MIU’s across Wales, from Denbigh to Barry. Attendees do not need an appointment and they will be seen by experienced emergency nurse practitioners and accident and emergency nursing staff.
Mr Hubbard adds: “MIUs have very experienced practitioners able to manage a wide range of injuries, they are highly trained and competent staff offering an excellent level of care. They are able to request and interpret x-rays and diagnose and treat a variety of conditions all based locally to prevent you travelling long distances to an Emergency Department.”
The YouGov data has come to light at a time when NHS Wales is urging people to Help Us Help You by making sure they access medical care through the most appropriate channels at a time when NHS services are under increasing strain due to the pandemic. For more information on how best to access NHS services, visit www.111.wales.nhs.uk or call 0845 46 47 (or 0300 10 20 247 for those living in the Cardiff and Vale University Health Board area).
When to go to an MIU and where are they?
The MIU should be your first port of call for burns, stings, wound infections, animal bites and scalp lacerations, to minor limb, eye, and head injuries.
They cannot treat:
• Symptoms of Covid-19
• Colds, coughs, sore throats, earache, rashes, temperatures
• Urinary infections, cystitis or catheter problems
• Dental problems
• Accident with injury to abdomen/stomach
• Chest pain
• Breathing problems
• Painful limbs, joints or backs
• Skin complaints including boils and rashes
• Wounds that have not been caused during an accident
Find them at:
• Barry Hospital
• Brecon War Memorial Hospital
• Bryn Beryl Hospital
• Denbigh Community Hospital
• Dolgellau and Barmouth Hospital
• Holywell Community Hospital
• Llandrindod Wells County War Memorial Hospital
• Llandudno General Hospital
• Mold Community Hospital
• Neath Port Talbot Hospital
• Tywyn Memorial Hospital
• Victoria Memorial Hospital
• Ysbyty Alltwen
• Ysbyty Cwm Cynon
• Ysbyty Cwm Rhondda
• Ysbyty Penros Stanley
• Ysbyty Ystrad Fawr
• Ystradgynlais Community Hospital
When to go to A&E
Patients should call 999 or go to one of the 13 major A&E in Wales in a limb or life-threatening emergency such as choking, chest pain, blacking out or serious blood loss.
For more information on how best to access NHS services, visit www.111.wales.nhs.uk.