Campaigners calling for the reinstatement of 24-hour opening at West Cornwall Hospital’s Urgent Treatment Centre in Penzance have presented a petition to the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Integrated Care Board. 

An hour-long meeting, provided members of West Cornwall HealthWatch with an opportunity to explain the background of the petition launch, document the widespread support for the UTC to be open on a 24/7 basis and gain assurances that the board had no plans to decommission the UTC and was fully behind the reinstatement of 24-hour service. 

Jane Varker, chair of West Cornwall Healthwatch, said: “I am handing over this petition of 2,905 signatures, together with a selection of patient stories and a list of the five town and eight parish councils who have adopted resolutions, supporting the reinstatement of the 24/7 service as being vital to the people of West Cornwall and the many thousands of visitors to the area.” 

A full and frank exchange of views took place, and the meeting ended on an agreement that the petition would be discussed at the December meeting of the ICB and that Kate Shields would present the petition to the RCHT board. 

Jane Varker said: “West Cornwall HealthWatch would like to send a massive ‘thank you’ to the 2,905 people who signed the petition and all the town and parish councils for their support.  

“We want to assure all those people that the campaign will continue until the service is back up and running 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”  

Chief executive Kate Shields has said the NHS Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Integrated Care Board are committed to resuming opening the treatment centre 24 hours a day.

Her comments came after it was reported that around 125 people each month have been making use of later opening hours at West Cornwall Hospital’s Urgent Treatment Centre in Penzance. 

The centre has been able to resume longer opening hours, from 8am until midnight, seven days a week, having successfully recruited more specially trained nurses and locum doctors, since the end of July this year 

General manager for West Cornwall and St Michael’s Hospitals, Paul Sylvester, said: “Opening until midnight has been widely welcomed by people in the West of Cornwall”, “And as soon as we’d made the change, we started seeing a similar number of patients coming to us between 9pm and midnight as we were before the pandemic.” 

With doctor and specialist nurse cover from 8am until midnight every day, the centre offers medical care for injuries and conditions such as, minor burns and scalds, simple fractures to the arms and legs, cuts, urinary infections and minor falls.  Like the minor injury units around Cornwall, people don’t need to make an appointment, they can just turn up during the opening times to be seen. 

Paul said: “Our urgent treatment centre is a vital part of the urgent care service for mid and West Cornwall and is an ideal alternative for people as far as Helston, Falmouth, and even Camborne and Redruth, after the minor injury unit there closes at 10pm.   

“Nearly all patients are seen and treated within four hours, so not only is it quicker but you’ll be helping us keep the emergency department in Truro for those who need it most. 

“Longer term we are still committed to resuming opening our urgent treatment centre 24 hours a day and are working hard on the best way to safely staff the unit around the clock and to recruit to the additional posts that would be needed.” 

Ms Shields, chief executive for NHS Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Integrated Care Board, said: “The Urgent Treatment Centre at West Cornwall Hospital is commissioned to operate 24 hours a day.  It currently provides an invaluable service every day of the week from  am until midnight to help with injuries that need attention urgently but are not critical or life-threatening. We expect it to return to a 24-hour service. 

“We’re committed to providing every resident with equitable access to our health and care services and are proud of the outstanding work of our staff across our 44 community hubs providing local vital support, our network of minor injury units, pharmacies and the GP surgeries and our hospitals, who work tirelessly to support that."