What makes Ripon Minor Injury Unit special: We speak to the amazing staff at one of their busiest times of year

A lifeline for Ripon and the district: staff at Ripon's minor injury unit. Anne Townsend, Clinical Support Worker, Urgent care practitioner Helen Sayer, Urgent care practitioner Jude Watson, and Kate Jones, clinical supervisor.
A lifeline for Ripon and the district: staff at Ripon's minor injury unit. Anne Townsend, Clinical Support Worker, Urgent care practitioner Helen Sayer, Urgent care practitioner Jude Watson, and Kate Jones, clinical supervisor.

What is it about Ripon Community Hospital that holds such a dear place in so many people’s hearts? The sense of community ownership has to be an important factor.

Having spent a morning with the brilliant staff of Ripon Minor Injury Unit, it’s obvious just how much this facility means to the city.

Ripon Minor Injury Unit has lots of helpful and informative displays.

Ripon Minor Injury Unit has lots of helpful and informative displays.

Their general manager for urgent and emergency care, Helen Siewruk-Barnes, hit the nail on the head when she told us that it’s viewed as something that belongs to the people of Ripon.

It’s held in such high esteem, in fact, that those who have been helped by the hospital or have previously worked there, feel inspired to give something back. And a big part of this is the Friends of Ripon Hospitals group, who have tirelessly raised vital funds for the hospital and minor injury unit over the course of many, many years.

Their amazing volunteers can often be found just inside the main entrance, giving a warm and friendly welcome to patients whilst also drumming up support for their fundraisers. On this particular Thursday that the 'Gazette popped down, it was the hospital’s former matron Jean Taylor and group secretary Heather Storey who were on hand selling raffle tickets.

Jean said: “The whole community supports the hospital, it’s very well thought of. It’s so friendly here, everybody knows everybody. Patients are treated as individuals and are looked after really well. Their individual needs are catered for.”

Jean Taylor and Heather Storey from the Friends of Ripon Hospitals.

Jean Taylor and Heather Storey from the Friends of Ripon Hospitals.

Heather said: “It is the people who work here that make it special, they care passionately about the hospital, and go the extra mile for patients. They are so dedicated in everything they do.”

In the minor injury unit’s waiting room there is a Lego table that’s been made by Ripon charity Jennyruth Workshops - another clear indication that this is somewhere that places community at the heart of everything it does.

It’s an ethos that staff take very seriously all year round, but in a season where we can all be more accident-prone due to black ice or other hazardous conditions, this community spirit becomes even more important.

Clinical supervisor Kate Jones said it’s looking after the community that she enjoys the most about her job at the minor injury unit, and working as part of a team to bring about positive outcomes for every patient.

Even at their busiest times when Ripon has snowy or icy conditions, the team still manages to go the extra mile to make patients feel comfortable and at ease. Any nerves they may have had coming to the hospital quickly dissipate.

Urgent care practitioner Jude Watson, said: “If you get black ice conditions, we will see a significant increase and spike in fractures. On a particularly busy day we might see high 40s and into the 50s for patient numbers. We average high 20s, low 30s. We are still seeing 10,000 patients a year.”

At this time of year, raising awareness of what people can do to prevent falls becomes an important focus for staff at the unit, and they’ve produced helpful and informative leaflets about how to stay warm, well and safe.

Jude said: “As practitioners, if an elderly person comes in, having fallen, we don’t just patch them up and send them home, we do an assessment - asking about how things are at home, what are your home conditions, what’s your support network, whether that’s family or friends, whether they know about voluntary services, and we look at footwear, their glasses, and ask them about medication, because all those things can increase or prevent the risk of falling.”

The hospital’s accessibility for residents continues to be one of its biggest attractions, and the majority of the minor injury unit staff also live nearby.

Urgent care practitioner Helen Sayer said: “It’s local, it’s staffed by permanent staff, so I think people do know us, and although there’s been some changes to the hours, it’s been a reliable service for so many years. I think the community really values the facility.”

Jude said: “The elderly population like the fact that they don’t have to travel to a bigger hospital. We’re not talking about being seen within four hours, although the target still applies to us, but we are aiming to see people within an hour, and we achieve that most of the time.”

General manager for urgent and emergency care, Helen Siewruk-Barnes, said: “It’s local, and it’s responsive and friendly. The patient feedback we receive is always excellent, and the the Care Quality Commission feedback has been extremely positive.”

The minor injury unit works closely with the community when a major event comes to the city - so it’s not just the day-to-day busyness of the hospital that staff do a great work in managing, they also work hard alongside other organisations to prevent injuries in the long-term.

The hospital produces a wide range of literature to encourage residents to assess risk and actively take steps to prevent it. When a cycling or running event is hosted in the city, the minor injuries team often liaise with organisers to see if they can help in any way.

We would like to celebrate the great work that the Ripon Minor Injury Unit does, and the amazing support that they’ve provided to thousands of residents over the years.

We would love to invite readers to give back to the hospital in some way this Christmas - whether that’s popping in to say thank you, making a donation to the Friends of Ripon Hospitals charity, or sending in a reader letter to the ‘Gazette about how valuable you think the facility is for Ripon.

Email finola.fitzpatrick@jpimedia.co.uk to get in touch, or call 01423 707505.

To find out more about the Friends of Ripon Hospitals, visit their website: www.friendsofriponhospitals.co.uk

Injuries that can be dealt with at Ripon Minor Injury Unit include:

- Head/facial injuries

- Wound assessment and closure

- Bites and stings

- Neck and back injuries

- Chest/rib injuries

- Upper limb injuries - shoulder to fingers

- Lower limb injuries - hip to toes

- Eye injuries and complaints