Introduction by Dr John Ribchester
I have been asked to provide an article about the history of the Minor Injury Unit in Whitstable and to describe the current facility at Estuary View Medical Centre. I am pleased to do so as I have always had a personal interest in the treatment of injuries ever since working in two central London Accident & Emergency Departments, firstly at King’s College Hospital and then afterwards at The Middlesex Hospital.
The History of the Minor Injury Unit
Over many years successive Whitstable GPs and nurses have provided a service for the injured. So far as we can tell there has been some form of Minor Injury Unit in Whitstable ever since the Whitstable and Tankerton Hospital was founded. Initially casualties attended Holden Ward and after many years a small extension, which provided a nice waiting area was funded by the Friends. GPs from Whitstable Medical practice would travel to the hospital to attend patients, or else they were treated by the ward staff.
This system was replaced by a Minor Injury Unit at the Whitstable Health Centre some time in the 1980’s. As all the Whitstable Medical practice General Practitioners and practice nurses were based there at that time it made sense for patients to be seen at Whitstable Health Centre rather than doctors having to make journeys to and from Whitstable and Tankerton Hospital, in addition to doing their normal General practice surgeries at Whitstable Health Centre.
This facility was limited by a lack of space and no possibility of developing any diagnostic facilities, notably x-ray, at Whitstable Health Centre. Realising the limitations of this service, the WMP GPs decided to develop and improve the service by relocating it to Estuary View Medical Centre. The GPs funded an area of this building for this project. A business case was made to the PCT and a new contract was issued for WMP to provide a purpose-built MIU with improved opening hours and additional staff and facilities.
Our MIU and X-ray unit is open 8-8 365 days. We have added a continuous DVT diagnosis and treatment service. We also provide a Consultant led fracture clinic, which results in less than 20% of our fracture patients having to attend hospital fracture clinics.
Involvement of the Friend’s of Whitstable Hospital and Healthcare
We have been overwhelmed by the enthusiasm and generosity of the League of Friends in developing this unit. The most important addition to the MIU is the provision of the x-ray suite. This project looked unaffordable because of the cost of building an x-ray screened suite and the cost of a full radiography staff and radiology reporting team, electronic communication to consultants for reporting and the purchase of the actual x-ray equipment. The Friends funded the actual equipment and the x-ray suite was then able to open. The Friends also run a café which is open for the convenience of patients and relatives, currently open on weekdays and Saturday mornings.
We feel the improved Minor Injury service at Estuary View Medical Centre is providing an improved local facility. Last year over 20,000 patients were seen. I am sure there are times when it is busy but the nature of urgent medicine is that demand is variable and cannot always be predicted. However, we do strive to see people quickly and compassionately and the patient feedback seems to support this. Currently 90% of people are seen and their treatment completed in less than one hour of arrival. We also have other projects in mind in order to continue with our aim of providing high-quality care closer to home for any patient in the Whitstable area who sustains a minor injury.
Dr John Ribchester
Senior and Executive Partner
12 January 2016