Health leaders seek Newark residents’ views on Urgent Treatment Centre opening hours

Posted Wednesday, September 6, 2023 2:31 PM

Health leaders seek Newark residents’ views on Urgent Treatment Centre opening hours

People in the Newark area are being asked about the opening hours of the Urgent Treatment Centre (UTC) at Newark Hospital and to share their experience of accessing NHS urgent care services overnight.

The UTC has been open from 9am to 10pm, 7 days per week since March 2020, when the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on staffing meant that it was not possible to continue to provide a reliable, safe urgent care service at the hospital 24 hours a day. Prior to the pandemic, before the temporary hours were put in place, the UTC was also often closed overnight at short notice due to lack of staff availability.

Typically, when the UTC was open overnight, it would treat, on average, one patient per hour, in contrast to between 4-6 patients per hour during the daytime.

Newark UTC is run by Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (SFH) and is based at Newark Hospital, which plays a vital role in the health and care landscape in the Newark area.

Over recent years there has been a significant expansion in the range of services and procedures available at Newark Hospital. These include a new Breast Cancer service, the introduction of gynaecology procedures, state-of-the-art improvements to a hearing booth within its audiology service to help conduct more accurate hearing tests and a refurbished endoscopy unit and CT scanner, alongside improved working conditions for staff and more parking for visitors and patients under construction.

A new purpose-built £5.6m operating theatre and recovery area with two new minor operation suites are also currently being developed at the hospital, creating capacity for an extra 2,600 operations and procedures every year.

What is a UTC?

The UTC is for patients with an urgent but non-life-threatening injury or illness and is used in tandem with other urgent care services such as NHS 111 (phone and online), pharmacy advice and out-of-hours or ‘same day’ GP appointments. Common conditions treated at UTCs include cuts, simple broken bones, wounds, minor burns and minor head, eye and back injuries.

Local health leaders are committed to a safe, sustainable Urgent Treatment Centre at Newark Hospital, operating at least 12 hours per day, which is in line with the specification for Urgent Treatment Centres across England.

Urgent care is different to emergency care, which involves life-threatening illnesses or accidents which require immediate treatment from the ambulance service (via 999) and A&E.

Latest data shows that the way people in Newark are accessing urgent care is changing, as more alternatives have become available. Since 2019:
– GP appointments have increased by 3.8%.
– On the day GP appointments have increased by 7% (an extra 1,620 per month).
– Calls to NHS 111 from the Newark area have risen by more than 52%, to 2,219 per month on average.
– Seven Newark-area pharmacies have already signed up to provide extended services to treat more minor illnesses including urinary tract infections (UTIs, or water infections) and some skin infections. More are set to follow.

Lucy Dadge, Director of Integration at NHS Nottingham & Nottinghamshire Integrated Care Board said “Healthcare continues to adapt and evolve following the pandemic, with a greater focus on prevention and early intervention and the new national NHS delivery plan for recovering urgent, emergency and primary care services, alongside an overall increase in demand.

“The current opening hours for Newark UTC have been in place for more than three and a half years now. We recognise that continued temporary arrangements do not provide the certainty that Newark residents expect and so we believe the time is right to have a conversation with local residents about if current opening hours are configured in the right way for them, or if there could be a different way to spread the opening hours over the day.”

David Ainsworth, the Director for Strategy and Partnerships at Sherwood Forest Hospitals who is responsible for overseeing improvements to Newark Hospital, said: “We are committed to the future of Newark Hospital, and we hope we are demonstrating that through the significant investments we are making to the hospital site. This includes improvements in the range and quality of services we provide.

“We recognise how valued Newark Hospital is to people who live in the area. That is why we want to make it a vibrant and very much valued asset for Newark Town and the surrounding areas.”

Nottinghamshire County Council’s Health Scrutiny Committee will discuss Newark UTC at its meeting on 12 September.

Councillor Sue Saddington, Chairman of Nottinghamshire County Council’s Health Scrutiny Committee, said: “The Urgent Treatment Centre (UTC) at Newark Hospital is, and will continue to be, a key part of the urgent care network available to local people.

“I very much look forward to providing our input to the proposals with my colleagues on the Health Scrutiny Committee when we meet on 12th September.

“I would strongly urge residents who use Newark Hospital, a very good and efficient hospital, to take part in the forthcoming engagement exercise. I hope to attend as many engagement events as possible and will look forward to hearing your views.”

How to get involved

NHS Nottingham and Nottinghamshire will be organising a series of public events and targeted engagement with local groups to gather the views of local people about urgent care services in Newark. Full details will be available from the NHS Nottingham and Nottinghamshire website.

Meetings with local MPs and Councillors are taking place and an online survey has been created to gather feedback from stakeholders, citizens and patients. 

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