TIVERTON'S Minor Injuries Unit will temporarily close for two nights next week due to an outbreak of sickness among staff.

Patients will be turned away from the unit at Tiverton and District Hospital between 10pm and 7.30am on Monday, January 14, and Tuesday, January 15.

The closure will be the third time the unit has been forced to shut because of staff sickness in the past seven months after it was closed on the nights of June 30 and July 1 and again on July 7 and 8 last year.

Kate Lyons, director of operations for Northern Devon NHS Trust, which runs the unit, said: “We apologise for any disruption the temporary closure may cause.

“Decisions such as this are not taken lightly and the safety of our patients is our number one priority.

“While temporary measures like this are not ideal, the trust's view is that it is not acceptable to keep an MIU open with unsafe staffing levels.

“We have been unable to find cover despite rigorous efforts to juggle the rotas of suitably-qualified staff, while the specialist nature of MIU work means we are unable to call on agency employees.”

The unit will continue to operate as normal during the day time and signs will be put up to inform the public what to do if they turn up at the centre when it is closed requiring treatment that cannot wait until the next morning.

Between one and two patients are dealt with by the unit on a typical night, with Mondays and Tuesdays being traditionally the quietest.