Plans unveiled for 24/7 urgent treatment centre at Medway Maritime Hospital
PUBLISHED: 09:02 04 August 2017 | UPDATED: 09:18 04 August 2017
Health bosses say the proposals will ease the strain on its A&E department
A 24/7 centre for urgent, but not emergency treatment, is set to open near Medway Maritime Hospital’s A&E department.
Last month health chiefs unveiled plans for urgent treatment centres at hospitals in Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells hospitals, and it is understood bosses across the county are drawing up similar proposals.
It means a range of tests, treatments and services would be available in one centre around the clock from April 2019, if plans are given the green light.
Patients needing emergency care – which includes immediate or life-threatening conditions, serious injuries or illness – would continue to be treated in A&E but by treating those needing urgent care elsewhere, pressures on the A&E Department should be reduced.
Services currently provided at the walk-in centre at Balmoral Gardens Healthy Living Centre would be relocated and provided within the urgent care centre, which is less than a mile from the current location.
Dr Sharif Hossain, clinical lead for urgent care at Medway Clinical Commissioning Group, which is responsible for planning and buying local NHS services, said: “Nationally, it is widely recognised that the current system for delivering urgent and emergency care is under significant pressure.
“We have therefore been reviewing urgent care services for some time and are now ready to share our proposals for improvements.”
The centre would bring together GPs, nurse practitioners, minor injuries, minor illnesses, emergency pharmacy advice, a children’s unit and frail and elderly care services.
It would also provide direct access to an acute surgical or medical assessment unit within the hospital, access to urgent mental health care; social care services, access to diagnostics such as x-ray and pathology and a fast track to the emergency department.
Additionally, the centre would offer walk-in and bookable appointments, including home visits, and see patients who have dialled 999 or NHS 111 and have been triaged.
Dr Hossain added: “We know patients trying to access urgent care find it confusing as there are so many different services available in different places.
“We are proposing to create a new GP-led Urgent Care Centre to bring all urgent care services together to provide a single access point to people with non life-threatening conditions who need advice, diagnosis and treatment.
“Ultimately our proposals are intended to improve the patient experience and ensure better health outcomes.
“We want people to be able to access the most appropriate clinicians in a timely manner and to make the best use of skilled staff.
“Locally, we know up to six out of 10 patients choose to go to A&E first without trying to access their GP or a different urgent care service, even when their illness or injury is not an emergency.
“This has to change – not only to improve the experience and outcome for those seeking urgent care but also to ensure patients with critical, life-threatening conditions can be treated quickly and appropriately.
“As so many people make A&E their first port of call, it makes sense to locate the Urgent Care Centre near the emergency department.
“Upon arrival at the centre, patients would be seen by an experienced senior nurse who will then direct them to the most appropriate service.”
The CCG is holding public engagement events to enable people to ask questions and share their views on the proposals.
Anyone wishing to attend must register via http://www.medwayccg.nhs.uk/urgent-care/
The events are taking place on:
Wednesday 9 August, 6.30-8.30pm, Priestfield Stadium, Redfern Avenue, Gillingham, ME7 4DD
Wednesday 30 August, 9am-5pm, Oasis Academy (Isle of Sheppey West Campus), Marine Parade, Sheerness, ME12 2BE. This is a joint event with Swale Clinical Commissioning Group.
Tuesday 5 September, 6.30-8.30pm, St George Hotel, 8 New Road, Chatham, ME4 6BB