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CONSULTATION ON CUTTING WALK-IN SERVICE AT ST MARY’S

The Isle of Wight Clinical Commissioning Group (IWCCG) is consulting on the impact of changes to the walk-in access to GP Urgent Care Service based at St Mary’s Hospital, during weekdays.

The decision is to close walk-in access to the service during routine working hours, when GP practices are open. The current access to the GP out-of-hours services, including walk-in access during daytime hours at weekends will remain. The proposal does not change access for emergency care in the Emergency Department at St Mary’s Hospital.

The consultation with the Public runs until 22nd February 2017.

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The Urgent Care Service – which was previously called the Beacon Centre – was set up 7 years ago to provide primary care medical services 24/7, including urgent and non-urgent ‘walk-in’ care under an agreement which ended on 30th September 2016. A number of challenges had become apparent in running the service including recruitment of GPs to the service and their availability to cover the number of shifts required; a reduction in numbers of people using the service and financial implications of rising premium costs in securing GP cover.

Staffing both the original walk in primary care service at the hospital and General Practice in the community is becoming increasingly difficult and this is reflected in the Primary Care Strategy consultation, which is open for public consultation. In addition, the quality of care delivered on a walk-in basis can be limited by lack of continuity and consistency of management, compared to that delivered by a patient’s registered GP, Nurse Prescriber or Nurse Practitioner.

The IW CCG and Isle of Wight NHS Trust worked together to ensure that a safe, ongoing service for provision of GP out-of-hours services from 1st October 2016 would be in place. As part of continuing to secure out of hours services, the Beacon Centre became the Urgent Care Service. Island residents were urged to consider accessing the redesigned service only if signposted by a health professional, or through the NHS 111 service. The Urgent Care Service was also redesigned to make most effective use of scarce GP time so that, depending on need, those attending the service could be seen by a nurse, community practitioner or a GP.

Over the last year, walk in attendance rates into the Urgent Care Service have begun to reduce through the increased use of the NHS 111 service and people are being directed to other healthcare professionals instead.  Patients wait for up to 4 hours to be seen following a walk-in attendance and a patient’s need can be more quickly met if signposted via 111 to a more convenient or appropriate service.

  • Daytime – Monday to Friday, the urgent care service now sees an average of 29 walk-in access patients each day, when the walk-in access is open – a reduction of 42% compared to a year ago.
  • In the evenings during weekdays, access to the GP Out-of-Hours service will continue to operate as it has done since 1st October 2016, based at the Urgent Care Service at St Mary’s, with access via the 111 phone number, from 18:30-08:00.
  • At weekends, the GP Out-of-Hours service operates from 18:30 Friday through to 08:00 Monday, and all day Bank Holidays. The walk-in access to the service during the daytime during the weekend (08:00-18:30) will not be changed as a result of this proposal.

By 1st April 2017, Isle of Wight residents and those visiting the Island requiring urgent, non-emergency care will be asked to do the following:

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  • Call 111 if you need urgent medical advice, or if you are unsure which service can best help you
  • For visitors to the Isle of Wight, the first point of contact at all times is to ring the NHS 111 service
  • If calling 111, it is possible that you will be asked to contact a local community pharmacist or other community healthcare services

People who require emergency treatment for a serious/life-threatening injury or illness should call 999, or attend the Emergency Department immediately.  This proposal does not change the walk-in access to the Emergency Department (Accident and Emergency).

You can give your views on the proposed changes by completing the online survey at http://www.smartsurvey.co.uk/s/UrgentCareSurvey/. A paper copy of the survey can be sent to you on request by calling 01983 552064.

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