More staff are needed to ensure that Tavistock’s minor injuries unit can open ‘sustainably’, said hospital bosses after announcing it would remain closed until the New Year.

The minor injuries unit (MIU), which sees an average of around 23 patients a day, was temporarily closed in August due to staffing shortages that could not be rectified in the short term.

It was due to be reopened this week (November 5) but will now not reopen until ‘the New Year of 2020’.

Since its closure in August, University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust has recruited and is currently training four new members of staff.

But, it has said, in order to run the MIU service across Tavistock, Kingsbridge and the Cumberland Centre, a further four senior practitioners needed to be recruited and trained.

The trust said it hoped that taking on the new staff would create a ‘resilient staffing structure’ for the future minor injuries service.

In a statement released on Friday, a spokesperson for the trust said: ‘We have recruited and are currently training four additional members of staff.

In order to run the minor injuries service across the Cumberland Centre, Tavistock and Kingsbridge, we need to recruit and train at least a further four senior practitioners.

‘This will ensure we have sufficient staff to cover the service and that all staff are trained and supported to the right level.

‘As senior practitioners, and sometimes sole providers, of the minor injuries service in venues such as Tavistock, we have to ensure they have the right training, experience and support to practice.’

The trust said that in the past, the staff have worked at an individual unit, but as part of the future staffing plan, it was aiming for staff to work across all three MIUs in order to add resilience.

When asked by the Times whether the reopening of Tavistock MIU would be affected if the trust was unable to recruit the four practitioners it needed, the spokesperson said: ‘We need to increase the resilience of the staffing plan and there are a number of actions in place.

‘We need more staff to ensure that we can open Tavistock sustainably.

‘We are confident the steps we are taking now will give us a strong and resilient staffing structure for the future minor injuries service, which is much valued by the public and ourselves.’

Joy Harrison, chair of Tavistock Hospital League of Friends, said residents needed ‘assurance’ that their healthcare needs would be met.

‘I am really disappointed by this news — the MIU is really needed in this area,’ she said.

‘It is a very, very valuable service and I think they are going to have to think about whether there is any other possible way of running this service.

‘The residents of this area must have the assurance that their healthcare needs will be met.’

The trust has said patients who need the service in the meantime can use the Cumberland Centre or visit the MIUs in Liskeard, Launceston or Okehampton.

The trust also said it had put arrangements in place for anyone registered with Abbey Surgery, Tavyside Health Centre, Yelverton Surgery and Okehampton Medical Centre (which is open to all, including non-registered patients), that these surgeries would offer a minor injury service.

This would, however, only be available within their normal opening hours.

The closure of Tavistock’s MIU does not affect any other part of Tavistock Hospital.