THE Urgent Treatment Centre promised for the Alexandra Hospital is to run for just four to five months while doctors assess its impact.
And the centre, which had been promised to be open 24 hours a day will only operate from 12noon to 9pm.
The news comes after a meeting between members of Save the Alex and doctors from Redditch and Bromsgrove Clinical Commissioning Group (RBCCG).
While welcoming the additional service, Ian Johnson of Save the Alex said four or five months (assuming the service starts in early December and runs until the end of April) simply isn’t long enough.
“We do believe it will enhance access to urgent medical care in Redditch – but it is important to note this is a service for the ‘walking wounded’ rather than those who are seriously ill,” he said.
“We wanted to know if this was an out of hours GP service under another name, but the doctors were clear the GP at the UTC would have better access to diagnostic tests and medical records.
“However in our opinion the name Urgent Treatment Centre is rather grandiose for a GP and a nurse based in a portacabin at A&E!”
In a document produced back in 2016 called ‘The Future of Acute Hospital Services in Worcestershire’ local doctors said: “Both hospitals (the Alex and Worcestershire Royal) would have new urgent care centres which could treat adults and children 24-hours-a-day.”
Urgent Care Centres, now known as Urgent Treatment Centres should, according to the NHS be ‘open at least 12 hours a day, every day, and be equipped to diagnose and deal with many of the most common ailments people attend A&E for.’
And, under plans being rolled out by the Government, UTCs should be open 24 hours a day by December 2019.
“Of course it is impossible to know what the impact of this service will be – that’s the whole point of having a trial,” said Ian.
“It’s nine hours a day where there will be a GP or an advanced nurse practitioner in addition to the general Alex A&E staff. We can only wait to see what the long term implications of keeping this service might be.”
A spokesperson for NHS Redditch and Bromsgrove CCG said: “The CCG is introducing the Urgent Treatment Centre as a pilot as it provides us with the opportunity to review the impact that it has on patient waiting times and outcomes before making a decision on long-term investment.
“As part of this pilot we’ll also test out the operating hours to see how well they meet the anticipated demand.”