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Emergency care pilot scheme set to launch in Wisbech in January

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Next month should finally see the launch of the Local Urgent Care Hub (LUC) pilot scheme in Wisbech - nearly two years later than was originally planned.

General View of North Cambs Hospital Wisbech. (6043535)
General View of North Cambs Hospital Wisbech. (6043535)

The LUC aims to improve emergency health care provision in community hospitals to divert patients away from busy accident and emergency departments. It was hailed, when it was first announced by the Peterborough and Cambridgeshire Clinical Commissioning Group in February 2017, as a means of ensuring the future of the area's minor injuries units (MIUs).

All three MIUs at Doddington Hospital, North Cambs Hospital in Wisbech and the Princess of Wales Hospital in Ely were under-threat in 2016 because they did not meet the necessary level of care provision.

The LUC at the Ely hospital has been in operation since May 2017 and has been hailed such a success in diverting patients away from emergency departments at the area's main hospitals that the CCG confirmed it was extending funding for the three pilot schemes for a further year.

However, neither the Doddington or Wisbech pilot schemes have got under-way with difficulties in recruiting GPs and workloads of local doctors' surgeries being blamed for the delay.

In September, when the extended funding was announced, the CCG said the LUC pilot in Wisbech would be launching in the autumn, but with a different approach to that taken in Ely.

A spokesman for the CCG explained the Wisbech pilot would see GP support via telephone and ‘on call’ recognising the lower footfall for the Wisbech MIU rather than having a GP on site. But it was once again delayed.

However, a spokesman for the CCG this week said: “We are working to launch the Wisbech LUC Hub pilot in January. The service will add GP expertise to support the Nurse Practitioners in the MIU at North Cambs Hospital, with the aim of treating more patients in Wisbech, and reducing the need for patients to travel to QEH for urgent care. Nurse practitioners will still assess and treat most patients, but they will be able to call on rapid GP support where required. Opening hours remain the same (Monday – Friday: 8.30-6pm) and as the service embeds we hope to expand the scope of conditions that can be treated."

The spokesman added: "Plans are now progressing to develop a similar service at Doddington. We’re liaising with local GPs and MIU staff to develop this, but no launch has been agreed at this time.”

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