When Felixstowe lost the Bartlet the local people were promised that the Felixstowe General would be safe. Now there are moves afoot to change the way the hospital is accessed – especially the walk in Minor Injuries Unit. Although there is no talk at the moment of closing the hospital – is this just the thin end of the wedge? And is it right to take away the ‘walk in’ facility from a town that is meant to be expanding?
The Clinical Commissioning Group have organised two public engagement events next week, at the Orwell Hotel. The events will be drop in sessions for members of the public and will be held in His Lordship’s Library:
Monday, 3rd December 2018, 6pm – 9pm
Friday, 7th December 2018, 9am – 12 noon
This is all part of a NHS drive to use local facilities more efficiently and hence take away some of the pressure on main A&E services. This is all quite laudable – but not if it reduces a perfectly good service. Apparently a number of proposals are being looked at – the most radical is to make the Felixstowe Minor Injuries Unit appointment only through your GP or the 111 service.
This is the response I got when asking for clarification
‘We are working with our colleagues across the local health community to look at how patients access the service, in particular the walk in aspect of the service. This is in response to the guidance from NHS England regarding Urgent Treatment Centres. A variety of approaches are being looked at with the aim of enhancing the overall service rather than diminishing it.’
We are always being told changes will result in a ‘better service’ for us – 100% of the time this is not the case. I would urge you to go along to one of the meetings and make your voices known.
These are the NHS guidelines – intended to be rolled out as soon as possible
Urgent treatment centres
Urgent treatment centres will be GP-led, open at least 12 hours a day, every day, and be equipped to diagnose and deal with many of the most common ailments people attend A&E for.
Urgent treatment centres will ease the pressure on hospitals, leaving other parts of the system free to treat the most serious cases. The urgent treatment centre offer will result in decreased attendance at A&E, or, in co-located services, the opportunity for streaming at the front door. All urgent treatment centre services will be considered Type 3 / 4 A&E and will contribute to the 4 hour access and waiting times target locally.The patient always comes first, and as outlined in ‘Next Steps’ the NHS’ aim over the next two years is to provide patients with the most appropriate care in the right place, at the right time.This is bad for the NHS because it puts unnecessary pressure on A&E and other parts of the urgent and emergency care system, and it’s bad for patients because many are treated in the wrong setting.
We have now published the guidance local areas need to get started on setting up new urgent treatment centres. The next step is for Commissioners, supported by NHS England regions, to review current provision against guidelines and make a plan for each facility. Where locally appropriate plans will be subject to consultation so the views of patients and the public will be heard.
- The NHS will roll out around 150 urgent treatment centres by December this year and by December 2019 all services designated as urgent treatment centres will meet the guidelines we have now issued.
- So we are introducing new urgent treatment centres, which will standardise this confusing range of options and simplify the system so patients know where to go and have clarity of which services are on offer where.
- The reasons for this are simple. We all know where to go when life is in danger – A&E. But estimates suggest up to 3 million people who come to A&E each year could have their needs addressed elsewhere in the urgent care system, but patients tell us that the range of alternatives available can be confusing – Walk In Centres, Urgent Care Centres, Minor Injury Units and others with local names and all with differing levels of service. So A&E is understandably the default choice for many people unsure where to turn when they need urgent care or advice