Health chiefs hail ‘positive’ impact of temporary care centre at N&N

06:30 28 April 2014

Reception area of the N&N's urgent care centre attached to the accident & emergency unit. Photo: Bill Smith

Reception area of the N&N's urgent care centre attached to the accident & emergency unit. Photo: Bill Smith

Archant © 2014

Health chiefs have hailed the success of a temporary care centre, which has helped ease pressure at Norfolk’s biggest hospital.

Officials behind the urgent care unit project said that around 10pc of A&E attendances were treated by a team of GPs and community health staff this winter at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.

The three month pilot started at the end of January and came to an end on April 27 as part of an initiative to ease demand on A&E.

In total, more than 2,000 patients were treated at the unit, which was made up of three transporters in the car park of the Colney hospital.

The majority of people were treated by GPs, community nurses, therapists and healthcare assistants from Norfolk Community Health and Care (NCH&C) and were able to return home. A small number that used the centre were admitted to hospital for further treatment, said officials.

The pilot project was a partnership between Clinical Commissioners for Norwich, North and South Norfolk, and staff from the N&N, community health trust, Timber Hill Health Centre and Norfolk County Council and aimed to treat people who were brought to hospital, but who did not need to see an A&E specialist.

Chris Francis, from the Norwich Clinical Commissioning Group, said the trial had made an impact. However, experts from the University of East Anglia would be analysing the data further to see if the urgent care unit was worth running in the future.

“On the face of it we think the trial has been really positive. The unit seems to have relieved a lot of pressure on A&E over winter, which is what we set out to do and what we had the funding for. We shall now evaluate what lessons we have learned, whether the unit has a place in the future and whether it could be afforded in the current climate.”

“One of the huge successes was how the whole health and social care system pulled together to deliver this,” he said.

Chris Carney, NCH&C’s associate medical director, added: “The feedback we have received from staff and patients has been really positive. It has been well received by patients, who commented on the short waits and friendly but professional atmosphere. We now need to assess the impact the unit has had and look at how we can take the experience and learning from this and use it inform services that are developed in the future.”

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