November 16, 2018 3.59 pm This story is over 36 months old

“Isn’t that a walk-in centre?” New urgent treatment centres explained

What’s the difference?

Confusion, concern and more questions than answers, that’s how plans for five new urgent treatment centres were reacted to in Lincolnshire.

Painted as a one stop shop for minor injuries and illnesses by leaders of the Lincolnshire Sustainability and Transformation Plan, the centres (rolled out nationally) will sit on the front of emergency departments.

Their sole focus is to solve the “confusing” alternatives to A&E and help to relieve the pressures on the rest of the hospitals.

All this is neatly packaged up into the name “urgent treatment centres” which will be based at Lincoln County Hospital, Boston Pilgrim Hospital, Louth Hospital, Skegness Hospital and Stamford Hospital.

Meanwhile, minor injury units at Spalding, Gainsborough and Stamford will become GP Access Hubs, which means patients can go there even if they are registered at another practice.

The idea is that patients will ring 111 or use the ASAPLincs app and be directed either to an urgent treatment centre or an extended access hub.

There is also a streaming service at the front door of both Lincoln and Boston emergency departments, which United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust already spent £1 million on.

This filters urgent cases from minor illnesses and injuries which could be treated elsewhere.

But, the latest plans didn’t fly a smoothly as officials thought.

For some, five centres wasn’t enough, while others, namely Lincolnshire’s health watchdog at the county council, slammed the lack of detail on opening times.

Ruth Cumbers, urgent care director for Lincolnshire hospitals, said the move was a “national directive” and was being rolled out across the country.

This is true, but when services are already being taken away from some areas this feels like a roll of the dice.

It comes at a time when emotions are already high about the NHS locally.

Lincoln controversially lost its Monks Road walk-in centre back in February after nine years of treating people in the city on an urgent care, no booking necessary basis.

In fact, at the time, a whistleblower told The Lincolnite the consultation run on the closure was pointless. The replacement, they said, was already arranged as a new A&E streaming service.

Fast forward nine months and people are now concerned that an urgent treatment centre at the county hospital is a like for like replacement.

Elsewhere, Boston and Grantham have seen their children’s and emergency departments change.

To tell people that their emergency care is also going to change without considering the detail is a gamble.

Officials are expected to report back on the plans in January and have said they will look again at the detail.

But, Lincolnshire County Council health scrutiny chair Carl Macey has warned that a repeat performance from health bosses will force the committees hand and be referred to the Secretary of State.

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