Urgent care

1 in 4 people told us the were unsure where to go when they needed NHS help urgently, especially when their GP practice was closed

We have heard from people living in Coastal West Sussex over the last three years about the services you use when you need help urgently.

People felt the options were confusing; they didn’t know when services are open and didn’t know which are most appropriate for what illness or injury.

They all have different names, different opening hours and differing levels of service, making it really difficult for people to choose the right service for urgent care or advice.

The local NHS is working to simplify that.

Improving clarity about local services

To make it easier to access the urgent help you need when you need it, our plan is for help to be provided by:

  • GP services
  • Urgent Treatment Centres (UTCs) and
  • Accident & Emergency (A&E).

These options will work together to help you be seen by the most appropriate healthcare professional by the most appropriate service.

GP services

GP services will be available at your normal GP practice in hours in the normal way.

Then when your GP practice closes there will be new GP access hubs across our local communities that provide appointments until 8-10pm during the week, and clinics on a Saturday and Sunday.

Urgent Treatment Centres (UTCs)

In addition to this there will be three Urgent Treatment Centres (UTCs) in Coastal West Sussex:

  • one co-located on the Worthing Hospital site (open 16 hours a day, every day of the week)
  • one co-located on the St Richard’s site in Chichester (open 16 hours a day, every day of the week)
  • one transforming and extending what is currently the Minor Injuries Unit in Bognor Regis (open 12 hours a day every day of the week).

These UTCs will be able to see any patient with an injury and illness that is not life threatening. Any life threatening condition will still go to A&E and patients should still call 999.

Patients will be able to go to a designated appointment at the UTCs by calling NHS 111 first and will also be able to walk in if needed.

Home visits

Finally, working across both the GP access hubs and the Urgent Treatment Centres will be a visiting out of hours team of health professionals that can get out to the house bound and those that can’t make it into one of these bases easily.

The aim is that this will simplify services for patients, making it easier for them to be seen by the right professional in the right place at the right time.

Under all of the options, the advice to anyone that needs an urgent appointment would be contact your GP practice or NHS 111 first.

This is also in line with national plans.

National plans

NHS England has said that all areas across the country need to introduce urgent treatment centres to standardise this confusing range of options and simplify the system so that patients are clear where to go. This includes replacing or changing all existing services providing care for minor injuries and illnesses.

There are also national recommendations that GP practices work together to help to meet the needs of their local communities.

By October 2018 patients across the country need to be able to access GP appointments into the evening and at weekends.

We hope that our new model for services will achieve both of these things, and improve care for people living in Coastal West Sussex.

So what happens now?

In line with national requirements, we have to go through a procurement process for the new contract for this local service.

Providers will be able to submit a proposal to take on the running of the GP access hubs, urgent treatment centres and the visiting service.

We expect that this process will take place over the summer and we will have a provider, or a partnership of providers, agreed by September so we can start to work with them to launch these services.

There will be a number of events over the coming weeks and months where you can come and meet the team and find out more about our plans and ask any questions you may have.

Dates will be on our website and in the Herald newspaper next week. We look forward to seeing you there.

Dr Vicky Beattie, Clinical Lead for Urgent Care at the CCG, said:

"People have told us over the past three years that they find the current way services work confusing and don’t know where to go when they need urgent care for minor illnesses and injuries.

“Some people find it hard to get an urgent GP appointment when they need one. We don’t think this is good enough and want to make it easier for people to get the care they need.

“These plans will mean that anyone who needs an urgent appointment will be able to be seen within 24 hours - and mostly the same day.

“We will also be introducing two new Urgent Treatment Centres in area and extending the minor injury service in Bognor Regis to give people living around there better access to this type of NHS help when they need it most.

“This will all be supported by an improved NHS 111 service where people will be able to get clinically assessed over the phone and either helped there and then, booked an appointment or signposted to the right place for the care they need.

“This will mean you will only need to tell your story once and we will cut down on the number of people bouncing around before they get the help they need.

 “We are confident this will be a less confusing way for services to work so that people can get the care they need quickly, and for most of the time, closer to their home.”

Our plans in summary:

Improve access to urgent GP appointments

During the day GP practices will offer appointments in the normal way, but when they close GP access hubs will provide pre-bookable urgent appointments up to 8-10pm at night during the week, and at clinics on a Saturday and Sunday.

Improve where people go for minor illness and injuries

Currently, there is a minor injuries unit at Bognor Regis War Memorial Hospital that is open during the week, and a minor injuries service at the Park Surgery in Littlehampton. Outside of these services, and when they are closed, people go to A&E in Worthing or Chichester. We plan to open three urgent treatment centres – one at Worthing Hospital, one at St Richard’s Hospital and one at Bognor Regis War Memorial Hospital - which would offer booked appointments as well as walk-in appointments.

Improve the way people access services

These changes would be supported by an improved system where people can contact their GP practice or NHS 111 and be assessed over the phone. They will then be booked an appointment or signposted to the right place for the care they need.

If you have any further questions, big or small, about this work please contact us.