PARENTS are being told to take their children to Blackburn if they think they need medical care, because there are no in-patient beds for children in Burnley.
They are also being told to ring an advice line if they are not sure what to do.
The Urgent Care Centre at Burnley General is open round the clock, every day of the year, but the consultant in charge of emergency medicine at the East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust says it is not an appropriate place for severe conditions that need hospital admissions.
The centre has a minor illness unit for children.
“The Urgent Care Centre at Burnley is for the assessment and treatment of minor injury and minor illness, where this cannot be dealt with by the patient’s GP,” said consultant Charles Thomson. “It is not an Emergency Department, and it is not an appropriate facility for more severe conditions that require hospital admission.
“There is also the Children’s Minor Illness Unit but there are, however, no in-patient beds, and parents who suspect their child has a serious illness should call an ambulance or attend the Emergency Department at Royal Blackburn Hospital.”
Doctors at the Trust and GPs say they are keen to make sure patients know what is available at the Urgent Care Centre.
Burnley GP Dr David White, the Trust’s GP Lead for Urgent Care, said patients should use the advice line if they were uncertain about what to do. “NHS 111 is free to call and is a fast and easy way to get the right help – whatever you need, wherever you are, whatever the time”, he said.
He added that non-urgent medical problems could be dealt with at a local pharmacy and through doctors’ surgeries.
Urgent Care Centre matron Janet Ashworth said: “There may be circumstances where it is more beneficial for the patient to head straight to the Emergency Department at Royal Blackburn Hospital such as chest pain or breathing difficulties.
“Children in Burnley and surrounding areas who are unwell and may require specialist care or admission should also present directly to Royal Blackburn Hospital as there are no paediatric overnight facilities in Burnley.
“Children who are unlikely to need admission can be assessed by the GP on duty at Burnley overnight.’
“Choosing the right service enables the patient to be assessed and treated more quickly by a clinician with the relevant expertise and reduces waiting times as they are not having to be processed twice.”