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 proposals to improve urgent care1 services for local people to the East Sussex Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee (HOSC).
These outlined proposals to develop Urgent Treatment Centres (UTCs)2 at our two hospitals, the Conquest in Hastings and the District General Hospital in Eastbourne. The proposals included the possibility of re-locating walk-in services from their current town centre locations to the hospitals. This was to provide the best possible service to local people by bringing together a number of services to provide an integrated and consistently high-quality service that would best meet the needs of local people.
Since we presented these proposals 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 people who currently access our urgent primary care services.
This prompted us to re-look at our initial proposals over the summer and we are currently finalising the outcome of this review. The provision of a primary care community hub3 in Hastings town centre is one of the options being considered as part of the review of the CCGs’ proposals.
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 expect to confirm our proposals by the end of autumn and will publicly engage on these proposals later in the year to gain feedback from local people which will be considered when finalising our plans.
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.
3 Primary Care Community Hub is a term that describes community services that meet a primary care need with the expectation that these will be accessed predominantly through a pre-booked appointment route although it is recognised that in some areas walk-in (non-urgent) access may be required e.g. for vulnerable patients.