Local people will soon have access to a new generation of Urgent Treatment Centres (UTC), established by the Government to help reduce the number of people visiting A&E departments unnecessarily.
The NHS is rolling out around 150 UTCs nationally and the team at the current Minor Injuries Unit, run by Care UK at the Royal South Hants Hospital, have been awarded the contract to run the enhanced service that comes into effect later this year.
The Southampton Urgent Treatment Centre will be based at the same location as the current Minor Injuries Unit, in the Fanshawe Wing of the Royal South Hants Hospital. The service will be led by an experienced team of clinicians who can offer treatment for a range of minor injuries and illnesses as well as offering x-ray facilities and a range of diagnostic testing.
Hospital director Penny Daniels said: “NHS estimates suggest up to three million people who visit A&E departments each year could have their needs addressed elsewhere in the urgent care system. Government consultations revealed patients were confused by the varying names and different levels of services available, so A&E has become the choice for many people unsure where to turn when they need urgent care or advice.
“While A&E is always the right choice for life or limb threatening illness or injury, our UTC can offer treatment for a range of conditions such as a throat infection, an insect bite or a fracture.
“I think people might be surprised by just how much the UTC can do – it is far more than just a minor injuries unit. Clinical staff experienced in urgent care treatment can assess and diagnose more conditions, prescribe medication and provide onward referrals to appropriate healthcare departments - giving patients faster access to the treatment they need.”
Dr Mark Kelsey, local GP and Clinical Chair of NHS Southampton City CCG said: “We are really looking forward to the new Urgent Treatment Centre opening later this year. The service will build on the great service the Minor Injuries Unit is already providing, but with even more support available for the whole family.
“The service is due to open in the summer and will be open seven days a week. Like the Minor Injuries Unit, you won’t need to make an appointment just turn up during the opening hours.”
Patients can just walk in, as no appointment is necessary. However, if they are uncertain that their condition is suitable for treatment at the centre, they can call the NHS 111 helpline. An initial assessment will determine the appropriate service, and if necessary, a UTC appointment can be booked by the 111 team, on behalf of the patient.
The UTC will be situated in the Fanshawe Wing of the hospital, off Graham Road. There will also be a designated children’s waiting area which, along with its short waiting times, makes it ideal for families needing care for urgent, non-life-threatening conditions.