In March this year, the East Sussex Better Together (ESBT) CCGs - Hastings and Rother (HR) CCG and Eastbourne, Hailsham and Seaford (EHS) CCG - presented their initial options to improve and invest in urgent care1 services for local people to the East Sussex Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee (HOSC).
These outlined options to develop Urgent Treatment Centres (UTCs)2 at our two hospitals, the Conquest in Hastings and the District General Hospital in Eastbourne. The options at that time included the possibility of re-locating walk-in services from their current town centre locations to the hospitals.
Since we presented these options earlier in the year we have received a range of feedback from local people and key stakeholders, and have developed a more in-depth understanding of the needs of the people who currently access our urgent primary care services.
This prompted us to review our options over the summer and we are currently finalising the outcome of this review.
Whilst we conclude our review, all patients registered at Hastings Medical Practice will continue to have on-going access to GP services with no break in the provision of services. Local people will still be able to access walk-in services, seven days a week, from 8am-8pm. For patients already registered with a GP at our current walk-in centres, appointments continue as normal.
The ESBT CCGs' Governing Body will consider the options before the end of the year and we are planning to undertake a formal public consultation on the options in the new year. We thank everyone who has already been involved in our discussions and we will continue to look for opportunities to engage with local people over the coming months.
1 Urgent care is a term that describes the range of services provided for people who require same day health or social care advice, care or treatment. This is different from emergency care provided in accident and emergency (A&E), other hospital departments, 999 and ambulances, which are set up to respond to serious or life-threatening emergencies.
2 Urgent Treatment Centres (UTCs) are GP-led, open at least 12 hours every day, and equipped to diagnose and deal with many of the most common ailments people attend A&E for. UTCs will ease pressure on hospitals, leaving other parts of the system free to treat the most serious cases. An NHS England review of urgent treatment services in the NHS found out that patients and the public were confused by the mix of walk-in centres, minor injuries units and urgent care centres, in addition to numerous GP health centres and surgeries offering varied levels of core and extended service. Within and between these services, there is a confusing variation in opening times, in the types of staff present and what diagnostics may be available. To end this confusion NHS England has set out a core set of standards for urgent treatment centres and has set out the requirement that these nationally standardised UTCs should be established by no later than 1st December 2019. Patients will be able to have pre-booked appointments at UTCs via their GP, NHS 111 and the Ambulance Service and should expect to be seen within 30 minutes of their appointment time. Patients will still be able to walk in and will expect to be seen within two hours.