THE minor injuries unit at one of Gwent's multi-million pound new hospitals could close, little more than two years after opening, health bosses are warning.
Not enough patients are using the unit at the £53 million Ysbyty Aneurin Bevan in Ebbw Vale, which is meant to see at least 25 a day.
Despite recent attempts to promote it across Blaenau Gwent, and at the A&E department at Abergavenny's Nevill Hall Hospital, the average attendance is around 10 patients a day.
The 25-a-day figure is the minimum necessary to safeguard standards of care, to enable staff to maintain their treatment skills.
The unit featured in the South Wales Argus in November, when its manager, emergency nurse practitioner (ENP) Kim Knight, said many people in the area still do not know the hospital has such a unit, or if they do they are unsure what sort of treatments it offers.
The ENP-run unit can deal with a range of limb injuries, minor head injuries, burns and scalds, sprains, and insect bites. There is also x-ray availability Monday-Friday, 9am-4pm.
It has now emerged that Aneurin Bevan Health Board bosses are consdering the unit's future, having discussed it at a meeting of its finance, performance and sutainability committee last month.
The minutes reveal that health board charman David Jenkins commented that it is now "unlikely" sufficient activity can be generated to keep the unit open, and alternative options for the providing the service to the community should now be considered.
Also to be looked at is an alternative use for the space at Ysbyty Aneurin Bevan taken up by the unit, should a closure decision be made.
The board closed three underused minor injuries units at Gwent hospitals late in 2011.
But the loss of the unit at Ysbyty Aneurin Bevan would be a blow to its attempts to ease pressure on A&E departments - in this case at Nevill Hall - by encouraging patients with less serious injuries to seek treatment elsewhere.