Funding for Local Urgent Care pilot schemes extended for a year but two Fenland hubs at Wisbech and Doddington have yet to launch - 18 months after they were due to start
A trial scheme aimed at improving emergency health care provision in community hospitals has been extended for a year - but the two Fenland Local Urgent Care Service pilots have yet to start, 18 months after they were due to launch.
In February 2017 Peterborough and Cambridgeshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) announced it was to launch Local Urgent Care Services (LUCS) hubs at three hospitals: North Cambs in Wisbech, Doddington and the Princess of Wales in Ely.
The aim was to help provide better access to urgent care services for local residents, improve patient experience and to ease pressure on A&E departments, and was also welcomed as a way of saving the minor injuries units, which were under-threat of closure.
But as the Citizen reported last October, while the Ely scheme was well under-way and working well, the Fenland pilots had not started as planned in April 2017 because of issues over staffing.
Eighteen months on and they still have not got under-way but there is finally some hope that the Wisbech LUCS will start in the next couple of months.
But it will be operated in a different way to the successful Ely LUCS pilot.
At the Princess of Wales Hospital the LUCS hub has GPs working alongside nurse practitioners in the Ely minor injuries unit (MIU) to provide a 'one-stop' service for patients with minor illnesses and injuries.
A spokesman for the CCG said: “Since February 2017 the CCG has been looking at ways to expand the current MIU services at Ely, Doddington and Wisbech. The aim is to integrate medical and nursing expertise to broaden the scope of patients who can be seen locally, with GPs supporting Nurse Practitioners to deal with more complex urgent care and prescribing.
"The Ely pilot began in May 2017 and the learning from this is helping us develop local urgent care services for Wisbech and Doddington. We are working with GPs in Wisbech and south Fenland to look at the best way for services to work collaboratively. We have had constructive discussions with local GPs and MIU staff on how best to expand and improve the services.
"The Wisbech pilot will trial a different approach with GP support via telephone and ‘on call’ recognising the lower footfall for the Wisbech MIU. It is hoped that this will start in the autumn.
"Due to GP recruitment (and workload) challenges in Fenland, it has proved more difficult to progress the pilot at Doddington, but work is progressing towards a launch date. We don’t yet have a ‘go live’ date but we will provide further updates as this work progresses."
Meanwhile in Ely the LUCS has been hailed a success with local GP, Dr Alex Manning, commenting on the extra year's funding, saying: “This is great news for local services. The Ely LUCS pilot has shown promising signs, and now we can explore how we can expand this service further."
Over the past year, nearly 13,500 patients have used the Ely LUCS service - an increase of four per cent compared to 2016/17. Patient feedback has been positive, with two-thirds of patients seen and treated at the Ely LUCS hub with no follow-up appointment required.
There are also a number of new initiatives in place in south Fenland to help ease pressure on nurses and GPs. For example, as part of the ‘Time to Care’ project, a large number of receptionists have been trained as ‘care navigators’ so that patients can be directed to the most appropriate service, and to help reduce demand on GPs. New systems have also been introduced for managing correspondence, which frees up GP time.
Information on opening hours and minor illnesses and injuries that can be treated at MIUs can be found at www.cpft.nhs.uk/services/minor-injury-units.htm