The Trust closed Ilfracombe and Bideford MIUs at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020. This allowed our highly skilled MIU staff to be redeployed to the emergency department (ED) at North Devon District Hospital (NDDH), where extra space and staffing was needed to provide a COVID-safe service.
We are fortunate in Northern Devon that we continue to have a low prevalence of COVID-19 in the community but, as we are seeing in some parts of England, coronavirus can still spread rapidly and widely.
In line with national requirements COVID-19 infection control guidelines are still in place at NDDH, meaning there is an ongoing need for the additional space and staffing in the main emergency department
The staff moved from our MIUs are still needed to support our ED and maintain the ongoing health, safety and wellbeing of patients. We cannot currently staff Ilfracombe MIU without compromising the delivery of safe patient care within the main ED.
Registered nursing staff in an MIU need high level clinical skills to provide safe urgent care because they are remote from the support and resources available at NDDH. A key part of the solution is to recruit more staff and we have tried hard to find suitable candidates. However, despite previous attempts, this remains challenging.
We understand that the temporary closure of Bideford and Ilfracombe MIUs causes concern and anxiety for local residents. We would like to reassure our towns and communities that the Trust is committed to providing local urgent care services within Northern Devon.
We have been working closely with the Integrated Care System for Devon to find alternative interim ways of providing local healthcare services this summer and are developing plans for the longer term.
The following is in place ready for the summer to support local residents and visitors in the Ilfracombe and Bideford areas to access urgent care more easily:
- Ongoing GP support to provide a minor injury service in the GP practices, Monday to Friday, nearest the MIUs that are temporarily closed in Ilfracombe and Bideford. Although these do accept walk-in patients when necessary we ask that people call NHS 111 or the GP first as you may be directed to a more appropriate service for your needs.
- From Saturday 19 June a weekend MIU service will be provided from 10am to 6pm by two fully qualified private ambulance staff in the Ilfracombe MIU. This will be available for both walk-in and patients referred through NHS 111.
- In response to the expected high level of tourist demand over the summer, private ambulances (no impact on 999 capacity) and first responder staff have been recruited to support existing RNLI life saver teams on three beaches in Northern Devon.
In a life threatening emergency people should attend the main emergency department at NDDH or call 999.