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Details revealed of hospital's new 24/7 urgent care service
2:38pm Friday 13th July 2012 in News
DELIGHTED health campaigners today hailed a major victory for Bucks Free Press readers - after details of Wycombe Hospital's new 24/7 urgent care service were unveiled.
The walk-in unit, which will open in October, will replace the emergency medical centre, currently located on the site of the former A&E department. The new unit will be in a different part of the hospital complex.
It will be staffed by GPs and specialist nurses instead of A&E doctors, and health bosses have a fund of £5million to run it. Medical staff will have diagnostic equipment available on site to deal with minor injuries and illnesses.
The plans were revealed by GP chief Dr Annet Gamell this morning to members of Buckinghamshire County Council's Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee (HOSC).
She spoke after Wycombe district councillor Tony Green presented a petition of behalf of the Save Our Hospital Services (SOHS) group, which was electronically signed by 6,879 people.
Cllr Green told the scrutiny committee today how the public demanded a 24/7 safe service at Wycombe.
He pointed out he was specifically attending on behalf of SOHS, which is chaired by Bucks Free Press editor Steve Cohen.
Cllr Green also told committee members of a separate petition signed by hundreds of BFP readers.
Scrutiny committee councillors agreed to maintain a watching brief and will officially monitor the new walk-in centre every three months.
The unit has been altered to a GP-led one under the controversial Better Healthcare in Bucks plan.
Under the original plan, however, there was a strong possibility that the centre would close during the night and there was no guarantee what diagnostic equipment would be available.
This prompted the successful 24/7 campaigns and health officials revised their proposals as a direct result of the public pressure.
After today's meeting, Cllr Green said: "We haven't managed to get a full A&E back but given the changes that are happening we have at least got commitment there will be 24 hour diagnostics available as well as medical care.
"The service provision will be monitored every three months by HOSC to ensure it is providing the service required.
"I would like to thank the Bucks Free Press for their ongoing support on this matter."
SOHS chairman Steve Cohen said: "The public must be aware that this new unit still represents a reduced service from the former emergency medical centre, and we have made councillors aware that our long term aim is for the complete restoration of A&E at Wycombe Hospital.
"However, had readers not backed our newspaper campaign and Cllr Green's subsequent e-petition, it is likely that the new urgent care unit would have closed at some point during the night, leaving patients having to make the difficult trip to A&E in Aylesbury in medical emergenices."
Health officials are still deciding what to call the urgent care unit which is currently known colloquially as MIIU (Minor Injuries and Illness Unit).
It will be located at the new PFI building on the hospital site in the centre of High Wycombe.
After the meeting Dr Gamell assured the Free Press that there would be sufficient GPs to man the unit.
See below for lits of specific details of the service changes:
Services Currently at Wycombe Hospital:
• Emergency Medical Centre on Wycombe Site
• Open 24 hours day, seven days per week
• Sees people with non life-threatening but urgent conditions
• Very serious / life-threatening emergencies are taken to Stoke Mandeville Hospital
• Minor Illness and Injuries Service
• Open 24 hours per day, seven days per week
• Primarily people who ‘walk in’
• Emergencies will be taken by ambulance to SMH
• Sees people who have injuries or illnesses that need urgent attention but that are not life-threatening emergencies
Types of condition that will be treated at the Minor illnesses and Injuries Service:
The Types of condition which are likely to be treated in the unit are:
• Sprains and strains
• Broken bones (not needing an operation or
manipulation under anaesthetic)
• Wound infections
• Minor burns or scalds
• Minor head injuries
• Insect and animal bites
• Minor eye injuries
• Injuries to the back, shoulder and chest
Types of conditions that will be not be treated at the Minor Illness and Injuries Service:
The Unit is unlikely to be able to treat (but will refer on):
• Chest pains
• Breathing difficulties
• Major injuries
• Stomach pains
• Condition likely to require hospital admission
How the new service will work:
• Open 24 hours day, seven days per week
• GP led with specialist nurses and other clinicians where appropriate
• Access to diagnostic services (eg x-ray)
• Clinical streamer assessment and direction to most appropriate care or service (including SMH A and E Dept if necessary or direct access to Stroke or Cardiac services at Wycombe Hospital)
• Service will work very closely with Ambulance Service to ensure patients are taken to the right service, first time or transferred quickly if necessary
• Expenditure expected to be within envelope of current cost of GP walk in services and EMC –approx £5m/ annum
• More detailed figures cannot be provided at this stage due to contract negotiations which are commercial in confidence
• When the contract is agreed the financial detail will be contained in public finance reports at the PCT Cluster Board