Proposals for the future of NHS urgent care services in North Tyneside will be put before local people over the coming weeks.
Urgent care services provide medical care for minor injuries and minor ailments and are separate from A&E services which provide emergency care for people with life-threatening conditions. A&E services are not affected by this announcement.
NHS North Tyneside CCG has begun an engagement exercise to listen to people’s views on:
- The continued suspension of overnight access to the urgent care centre at North Tyneside General Hospital (‘Rake Lane’)
- The CCG’s plans to commission a new integrated urgent care service consisting of an Urgent Treatment Centre, which would open from 8am to 10pm, and a Home Visiting Service operating during the out of hours period. These changes would come into effect from 1 October 2018.
Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust and North Tyneside CCG agreed in December 2016 to suspend overnight opening of the urgent care service at Rake Lane because it was only used by an average of 3-4 patients per night, two-thirds of whom required little or no medical treatment. Clinical staff were redeployed to the Northumbria Emergency Care Hospital (NSECH), which deals with life-threatening emergencies and is far busier overnight.
The CCG has reviewed these arrangements and found that there has been no adverse effect on patient care or other NHS services. With other options available at night time and a need to target staff in areas where they can help the most acutely unwell patients, it plans to continue the current arrangements, with the centre closing overnight.
Earlier this year, the CCG started the process of selecting a provider to operate a new urgent care service for whole of North Tyneside, but was unable to identify a provider capable of delivering the service as specified.
Dr John Matthews, a local GP and Chair of North Tyneside CCG, said: “The need for change has not gone away. The current system is inefficient, unaffordable and confusing, and many patients have told us they would prefer a simpler ‘one stop shop’ service.
“We continue to believe that a single urgent care centre is the way forward, but some elements of our thinking have changed, so we want to hear local people’s views before making any changes.”
“We are introducing an extra 1,000 extra appointments every week at local GP practices, which will help reduce the pressure on other NHS services. National guidelines for urgent care centres has also changed.
“Night-time opening at Rake Lane walk-in centre has been suspended for nine months, and we have seen no adverse effect on patient care as a result. We therefore propose to commission a new urgent care service from 1 October 2018.”
The new service would consist of an urgent treatment centre offering GP-led care for minor injuries and minor illnesses between 8am and 10pm, 7 days a week. In addition, an out of hours GP home visiting service will provide home-based clinical care between 6.30pm and 8am on weekdays and 24/7 at weekends.
Dr John Matthews added: “We are determined to spend our local NHS’s money on the best possible mix of services for patients. The small number of patients needing urgent care at night can get clinical advice easily by calling NHS 111, who can arrange a home visit from a GP if that is appropriate.
“That means better use of NHS resources, and less time travelling after most buses have stopped for the night. If necessary, the Accident & Emergency departments at the RVI and Cramlington hospitals are further options at night time.
“The reality is that you could count the patients using the Rake Lane walk-in service at night on the fingers of one hand. This will be more convenient for patients, and it means we can focus our staffing on the busiest times of day rather than spending large amounts of money keeping an empty building open all night.
“The new service will see around 150 patients a day – it makes no sense to spend a chunk of the budget on three or four patients a night.”
Organisations bidding to provide the service will be asked to identify a suitable site. This may be an existing walk-in centre, or another location in North Tyneside.
The current urgent care services at Battle Hill Health Centre and Rake Lane will continue to operate until they are replaced by the new service in October 2018.
The listening period runs from 23 October to 17 November, with a survey, focus groups, public events and online advertising helping people to share their views. The CCG will then analyse the results before making a final decision in early December about the new service provision from October 2018.
To complete the survey visit https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/URGENTCARENTYNESIDE or call 0191 217 2803 if you need a paper copy.
Two public events take place on Thursday 2 November – click on the date you wish to attend and that will take you to the registration link to book your place.
For anyone who is unable to attend these sessions – there will be ‘drop-in’ sessions’ on the following days.
Please click on the links to register your attendance:
- Thursday 9th November – The Oxford Centre 2 – 4pm
- Thursday 16th November – Whitley Bay Library 2 – 4pm
If you are experiencing difficulties call 0191 217 2803 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.