Hospital bosses are drawing-up plans for a new urgent treatment centre at Stevenage's Lister Hospital, which they hope could be up-and-running by the winter.

Around 40,000 patients currently attend the Lister’s emergency department each month, where they can face lengthy waits to be treated.

But hospital bosses are looking at plans that could see patients with minor injuries or illnesses redirected to a co-located urgent treatment centre.

That could take some of the pressure away from the emergency department – while speeding up waiting times for patients.

The East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust – which runs the Lister Hospital – already operates an urgent treatment centre at the QEII Hospital in Welwyn Garden City.

That centre – open every day between 8am and 10pm – offers a walk-in service for a range of minor illnesses and injuries.

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Adults and children can receive treatment for muscle and joint injuries; burns and scalds; bites, stings, cuts and bruises – as well as minor eye or head injuries or objects that have become stuck in ears or noses.

And crucially the waiting time to be seen there – by an emergency nurse practitioner or GP – is shorter than it would be at an emergency department.

Trust chief executive Adam Sewell-Jones highlighted the plans for a further urgent treatment centre on the Lister Hospital’s Stevenage site at a meeting of the Trust’s board on Wednesday (September 6).

An exact location has yet to be finalised, but Mr Sewell-Jones told board members they hoped to have it on site by the winter.

He added that it would be an alternative for those patients who did not need to visit a full emergency department, but who did need to see someone urgently.

The latest data presented to the board meeting on Wednesday shows the length of time patients are having to wait.

In July, 65.2 per cent of patients were treated – and either admitted or discharged  – within the national four-hour target.

However, for 5.9 per cent –  one in every 16 – the wait was in excess of 12 hours.

The average time spent in the emergency department for patients who were not admitted in July was 212.9 minutes – that equivalent to three hours and 32 minutes.

But those who were admitted, according to the data, spent an average of 529.6 minutes in the emergency department – that’s equivalent to eight hours and 49 minutes.