A shortage of trained staff has meant that Forfar’s minor injury and illness unit (MIIU) will cut its opening hours from Monday.
The unit, at Whitehills Health and Community Care Centre, will now open during the week at 9am and close at 4.30pm instead of 8am to 10pm although it will be open between 7.45am and 10pm at weekends and on public holidays.
NHS Tayside said the change is temporary but will continue until additonal staff can be found.
In the meantime, people in and around Forfar who need to access a minor injuries and illness unit (MIIU) outwith the new opening hours are being advised to travel to the MIIU at Arbroath infirmary which will be open 24 hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week.
Dr Andrew Russell, NHS Tayside’s medical director, said that shortening weekday hours will allow the unit to stay open longer for peak periods at weekends.
He said: “It is essential that we provide an MIIU service with appropriately skilled staff which is safe for patients and staff.
“We find ourselves in a position where there is a shortage of appropriately-trained staff and a difficulty in recruiting new staff and we have had to make the decision to temporarily restrict the opening times of the units.
“We realise that this temporary change to working hours in the MIIU may mean that some patients have to travel further to access services and we apologise for this. However, shortening the opening hours during the week allows us to keep the services open longer during the weekends when it is busier. It also allows us to operate all four MIIUs in Angus.
“We will continue to monitor the situation over the coming weeks with the aim of returning to normal operating hours as soon as is practical.
“There is already a review underway which is working towards developing a new service model for delivering minor injury and illness services that will improve the capability and capacity to support care for the population of Angus.”
The same hours are being applied to Montrose’s MIIU at the Links Health Centre and Brechin’s MIIU opening hours were cut back in August last year, also due to a staff shortage.
GP out-of-services can be contacted at all times via NHS 24 on 111. Patients contacting NHS 24 will be directed to the most appropriate out-of-hours service for treatment. They should also be reassured that if they require a GP, this will be arranged via NHS 24.
Support groups using facilities in Whitehills Health and Community Care Centre in Forfar will be unaffected by the change to opening hours.