Cycling accidents, craft knife slips, nails through fingers as well as sprains and bone breaks from sporting injuries – the team at Abingdon Minor Injuries Unit sees these types of painful mishaps and many more on weekly basis.
The dedicated and highly skilled Emergency Practitioners at the unit on the Abingdon Community Hospital site are the busiest in the county seeing, treating and patching up around 1,500 adults and children a month in the peak summer months.
Their work, and that of Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust’s MIUs at Witney Community Hospital and Townlands Memorial Hospital in Henley – as well as first aid units in Bicester and Wallingford – means that thousands of people across Oxfordshire don’t put an unwarranted strain on A&E departments at the John Radcliffe and Horton General.
Phil Bedwell, the Clinical Lead at Abingdon MIU, said: “Emergency departments at acute hospitals are just that. They are for emergencies, for those serious, potentially life-threatening cases not sprained ankles, wounds, bites and eye injuries.
“Of course, when someone is hurt they want to get medical help as soon as possible. Our MIU teams have all the training, skills and experience to help in most cases. We have the expertise to deal with complex needs and we have x-ray too, so we can see if you’ve broken something or it’s a sprain.
“We can examine, treat and discharge you without follow-on, or arrange a referral to an outpatient clinic and keep you out of hospital. So rather than head off to the JR or the Horton, ring the NHS 111 number and get an appointment with us or your nearest MIU or first aid unit.”
The MIU at Abingdon is open seven days a week, from 10am to 10.30pm and the x-ray department operates from 10am to 6.30pm, Monday to Saturday and 11am to 5pm on Sundays. There is pay and display parking on site (first half hour free).
All Oxford Health’s MIUs operate an appointment system via the NHS 111 service. Callers are questioned about their injury over the phone and given an appointment at their nearest unit.
Mr Bedwell explained: “By operating an appointment system we can now give people a much more accurate idea of an anticipated assessment time.
“Of course, people can still walk in and we will see them, but those who have an appointment will be seen first unless there is a clinical need to tackle a more urgent case.”
The appointment system is designed to improve patient care, manage expectations and allow flexibility. It is also aimed at helping the service become more streamlined this winter by reducing waiting times and fostering better working practices across the whole of Oxfordshire’s health and social care system as part of a formal countywide Winter Plan.
Karen Lopez, Operations Manager at Oxford Health, explained: “For instance if someone comes to the MIU after 6.30pm when the x-ray department is closed, the team will investigate if an injury can be managed overnight with painkillers and a sling or splint rather than directing a patient to A&E.
“Patients then get priority access to x-ray the following morning at the MIU before the unit is open to new cases.
“Similarly, the John Radcliffe Hospital and South Central Ambulance Service will divert to the county’s MIUs when appropriate and at peak times.”
Pete McGrane, Oxford Health Clinical Director for Community Services, said: “Our Abingdon and Witney MIUs can help local people with a wide range of minor injuries, reducing the need for long journeys to A&E and increasing your chances of being seen more quickly. Come in and see us, we’re here to help!”
TOP TIPS: If you have a minor injury (suspected break, sprain, wound, cut or eye injury), ring 111, give the call handler all the details they ask for and get an appointment at your nearest MIU or FAU. Or you can go online at 111.nhs.uk
EVERYBODY HURTS: If you are in pain due to an injury please take painkillers, like paracetamol, before you come in for assessment. It makes the assessment easier for everyone concerned. “It won’t mask your injury and it can help with your treatment as we will be able to move you more,” says Mr Bedwell.
FIRST AID FIRST: The NHS website has some useful tips and ideas on how to deal with sprains of strains that can include pain, swelling, bruising and tenderness around a joint or muscle. Recommendations include PRICE: protection, rest, ice, compression and elevation.