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Urgent Care Briefing - Supporting people to get the right care in the right place

Urgent care is for illness or injuries that need immediate medical attention but are not serious enough to require a visit to A&E or an ambulance.

The CCG and NHS England commission a range of primary care medical services for people who need immediate medical attention, and keep these under regular review. This briefing note sets out the latest position.

During normal surgery hours, patients should contact their own GP practice. Urgent care is much more expensive than routine care and it is important patients are encouraged to plan appointments whenever possible and only access urgent services when there is a medical or social need.

Urgent care is a vital part of supporting our local population to stay fit and well and live as independently as possible. However, an urgent GP appointment is not always the most appropriate option because a patient may have, for example, urgent mental health, social care, or nursing needs. Therefore during the evening, overnight or on weekends, depending on a patient’s individual need, urgent care support can come from a range of services including an Out of Hours GP, a pharmacist, the mental health crisis team, a social worker or a community nurse. All of these services can now be accessed by North East Lincolnshire residents 24 hours a day, seven days a week by one phone call to the Single Point of Access (SPA) on 01472 256 256. By ringing SPA, patients will get the right care for their need.

While the SPA was being developed, North East Lincolnshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) had continued to fund a walk-in GP/Nurse urgent care service on Saturday, Sunday and Bank Holiday mornings at the Quayside Medical Centre in Grimsby. The service will not continue after March 31st (following the Easter Bank Holidays).

The Quayside walk-in service was intended purely as an urgent care service. However, while it was certainly utilized for this purpose, it is clear it was also used by some patients for standard non-urgent GP services due to its extended opening hours. For example, during an average four hour Saturday session, the Quayside walk-in service would see 33 patients. Twelve of these would be patients registered at the Quayside practice. Four patients would be from outside North East Lincolnshire and 17 would come from other North East Lincolnshire Practices. A visit to the walk-in centre costs on average £68, and is essentially duplicating services that can be accessed via the SPA at a time when it is increasingly important that the CCG makes the most efficient use of valuable but limited funds.

This change only affects the weekend and Bank Holiday walk-in. The CCG will discuss with NHS England about how the practice will work with its own registered patients to identify how they can best meet their demands for appointments within normal surgery hours.

We appreciate some patients may genuinely find it very difficult to attend their own doctor’s for routine appointments during normal working hours and therefore most local practices already offer extended working hours such as weekday evenings and early mornings, In addition, the CCG and NHS England have been working with local practices and listening to views of the public and Healthwatch to understand the needs of patients and as a result, a number of local practices are also piloting “7 Day” services from June 2016. This pilot will include offering access to advice and some planned appointments during weekends for their registered patients. This is pilot would test out the need for, and best way of providing, an additional service to the GP Out of Hours urgent appointment service across 7 days of the week.

People visiting our area – such as holiday makers – can access urgent care both in and out of hours and should contact NHS 111 if they become ill or injured for advice.

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