A NEW urgent care unit at Wycombe Hospital opened its doors at the start of October and saw about 1,400 patients in its first two weeks.
The Minor Injuries and Illness Unit [MIIU] has replaced the emergency ward at Queen Alexandra Road, although it is in a different location - on the ground floor of the modern PFI building.
The unit, which is open 24-hours-a-day after a successful campaign started by the Bucks Free Press, is run by Bucks Urgent Care - a private company which was set up by GPs and contracted by the NHS.
The firm also runs the GP out-of-hours service for Buckinghamshire.
Work is still ongoing to install X-Ray and diagnostics equipment at the MIIU, while the out-of-hours service is also preparing to move into the unit from its current base in the main hospital.
The MIIU includes a front desk and navigation room where patients are prioritised, a waiting room, two assessment rooms, as well as plastering and treatment rooms. Scroll down for details of the unit staffing.
THE full closure of Wycombe Hospital’s emergency room has finally gone ahead this month - as part of a controversial NHS shake-up which is likely to be replicated across the country.
Health chiefs say Buckinghamshire is now ahead of the game in the national drive to centralise A&E departments in fewer locations - with most of the county's emergency patients now directed to Stoke Mandeville Hospital instead.
Both financial and clinical factors play a part, but the general idea is to focus A&E resources and expertise on patients who really need them. Thousands of patients were said to be draining resources by attending Wycombe’s emergency room unnecessarily.
By moving the specialist doctors to an expanded A&E ward at Stoke Mandeville, emergency patients are expected to benefit from increased consultant presence and improved quality of care, despite having to travel further.
Meanwhile, a new Minor Injury and Illness Unit [MIIU] at Wycombe Hospital can treat a large proportion of the walk-in patients who used to attend the emergency room.
The MIIU, run by Bucks Urgent Care, is generally staffed by one GP and three highly experienced nurses, with this cover slightly reduced overnight.
Dr Jonathan Pryse, managing director of Bucks Urgent Care, told the Bucks Free Press: "I suspect this is a model that will spread and be replicated throughout the country.
"It can be much more appropriate for patients to be seen here rather than in an A&E department. We all have a responsibility to manage NHS resources effectively and that our population get safe, high-quality healthcare in the most appropriate setting."
"A&E should be reserved for people who are seriously unwell or have significant injuries...
"The majority of the people that we have treated to date have minor injuries. Most minor illnesses can be dealt with by self-help, [or] advice from a pharmacist or GP, both in and out-of-hours.
"If we feel that you would be best treated elsewhere then we may redirect you to a more appropriate service.
"Seriously sick and injured children should always go to the nearest Accident and Emergency department. At the MIIU, we deal with things like cuts and bruises, scalds and minor burns and infected wounds."
Operations director David Coyle said: "There is minimal delay in assessment at the MIIU, so it’s a good model of urgent healthcare...
"If people do come here when they are very sick or injured, they will be transferred to the right place very quickly."
Staffing at the MIIU during the day:
• One GP
• Two Emergency Nurse Practitioners (ENP)
• One Advanced Nurse Practitioner (ANP)
Staffing after 10pm:
• One Emergency Nurse Practitioner
• One Advanced Nurse Practitioner
• GP presence through the out-of-hours service, which will be located in the MIIU. This has two GPs covering Buckinghamshire overnight, generally with one on the road and one at the base.