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Improvements to urgent care services

Urgent care services for patients in west Hertfordshire are being improved under plans led by Herts Valleys Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).

The aim is to make it easier and quicker for patients to get urgent medical attention for the most common ailments. This will free up A&E to treat the most seriously ill patients.

Central to the new system is an improved NHS111 service staffed 24/7 by trained advisors linked to clinical staff who will assess patients’ needs and make sure they get the right care. This might be advising patients on self-care, booking appointments in an urgent treatment centre (or similar walk-in centres), arranging for people to see a GP or calling an ambulance in serious cases.

The developments link with NHS England plans to create new Urgent Treatment Centres (UTCs) providing a more uniform service for patients.

The Urgent Care Centre at Hemel Hempstead Hospital will become a UTC from 1 December as part a national roll-out.

In addition to the current urgent care offering at Hemel Hempstead hospital the UTC will gradually introduce tests for things like respiratory infections, anaemia and deep vein thrombosis that are currently only available at Watford hospital. In addition to the current staff team of GPs and nurses the service should grow to include other professionals such as pharmacists, emergency care practitioners, access to mental health services and community nursing staff.

The UTC in Hemel Hempstead will be open from 8am to 10pm every day, the same temporary hours that the urgent care centre has been operating since last December. The CCG will run a consultation from January to get feedback on the UTC service and take a longer term view on opening hours.

There are plans to develop the urgent treatment centre approach in St Albans, Watford and Borehamwood during 2018.