The Urgent Care Centre at Hemel Hempstead Hospital is set to be downgraded from December 1 and become an ‘Urgent Treatment Centre’.
The move, which had not been publicly announced, will mean that the reduced opening hours become permanent, and there is no prospect of the facility opening 24 hours a day.
And the Gazette understands that the hours may be cut further in future.
Health bosses say that they have had to introduce the change as part of a national initiative.
A spokesman for Herts Valleys Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), which oversees healthcare across the area, said: “NHS England wants to have 150 urgent treatment centres in place across England from 1 December. This is part of a national plan to ease the pressure on hospitals and particularly A&Es so that they are free to treat the most serious cases.
“All clinical commissioning groups have been asked to say how they will meet this requirement and for Herts Valleys CCG the urgent care centre at Hemel Hempstead Hospital comes closest to fulfilling NHS England’s expectations.
“We are putting things in place to open an urgent treatment centre at Hemel Hempstead hospital from December 1. The service will operate on much the same lines as the current urgent care centre but we are planning some additional improvements to enhance the service for patients and we will provide more details about these in the coming weeks.”