Urgent review launched into stretched services at urgent care centres

Peterlee Community Hospital.
Peterlee Community Hospital.
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A review of urgent care at three East Durham centres has been carried out as health chiefs look to deal with stretched services.

The study has been carried out of the walk in centre at Healthworks in Easington Colliery, as well as urgent care centres in Peterlee and Seaham, as the NHS aims meet demand and point people to the care they need from the right service.

As we have seen up and down the country, the urgent care system quite simply does not provide the service that we need deliver to be safe and sustainable into the long-term.

Dr Stewart Findlay

Now the Durham Dales, Easington and Sedgefield Clinical Commissioning Group is to ask the public what they think about plans following the two-year exercise to understand how people’s needs are best met, with experts and patients’ groups already assisting with the efforts.

It has drawn up a proposed model which sets out how primary care services would be accessible at a number of hubs during the day, including weekends, but no walk-in facility as patients will be triaged.

A GP practice would be accessible from 6pm to 8pm, with minor injuries to be dealt with through the hubs, with “rapid access” to x-ray facilities.

Out of hours, calls will be triaged through the 111 service and consideration given to how transport is offered.

As it stands, Seaham Primary Care Centre’s urgent care section is open from Monday to Friday from 8am to 6pm while Peterlee Community Hospital’s is accessible around the clock, with a GP out of hours service available from 6pm to 8am, and 24 hours during the weekend.

A walk in service at Healthworks is open from 8am to 8pm all week.

In addition to these, GP practices are open from 8am to 6pm during the week, with extended opening on some evenings and additional weekend opening.

There are no A&E departments in Easington.

At Healthworks, there is a nurse led urgent care centre in the same building as two GP practices with the same opening hours, with concerns raised about the duplication of care.

Dr Stewart Findlay, the group’s chief clinical officer, said: “As we have seen up and down the country, the urgent care system quite simply does not provide the service that we need deliver to be safe and sustainable into the long-term.

“The aim is to commission urgent care which people find simple to understand and gets people prompt treatment or advice for their urgent care need, making best use of the medical workforce and without additional pressure on A&E.

“It’s important to understand that no decisions have yet been made about what future services may look like.”

The report also says the service has had limited success in meeting growing demands and addressing reasons for the patient seeking help.

It adds this should be done by providing a “simpler, safer and more effective system” and offering better value for taxpayers.

More details on the proposals will be posted via www.durhamdaleseasingtonsedgefieldccg.nhs.uk in the future.