EXCLUSIVE: NHS bosses reveal plans to close Sheffield minor injuries unit and city walk-in centre

NHS walk-in centre on Broad Lane
NHS walk-in centre on Broad Lane
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Plans are being drawn up which could see the Sheffield minor injuries unit close.

The service could be scrapped and replaced with new areas at the Northern General.

Minor injuries unit at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital

Minor injuries unit at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital

The NHS walk-in centre on Broad Lane in the city centre is also under threat of being moved to the Northern General.

The Emergency eye centre at the Royal Hallamshire is also being scaled back and will only see emergency cases. Urgent appointments will be carried out in the community.

Other plans include changing the way people get urgent GP appointments and 'improving the way' patients access services.

Sheffield Clinical Commissioning Group bosses said the changes were in response to patient 'confusion' on which services to access and to 'take the pressure' off A&E.

The plans have been met with some criticism and a formal consultation is due to take place.

NHS campaigner Deborah Cobbett said: "We no longer have one National Health Service, just a collection of systems to manage throughput and patient flows.

Closures will mean extra travelling for patients and their relatives, difficulties with transport and possibly with caring responsibilities, and more pressure on services elsewhere, often in Sheffield."

Dr Tim Moorhead, Chair of NHS Sheffield CCG, said: “This consultation is about improving access to urgent health care for people across the city – that’s for minor injuries and illnesses that need dealing with quickly.

“It is not about A&E departments - but sensibly we believe the options will take the pressure of these departments so they can concentrate their efforts and resources on people with life-threatening conditions.

“We have looked at what patients have told us, listened to our colleagues in health and taken on board national requirements.

“By improving access to urgent appointments with GPs and other health professionals in the community, people will be able to get the care they need as close to home as possible, which is what they have told us they want.

“At the moment there is a lot of confusion around which service to use, and lots of people having to be redirected to different services which can cause additional stress and inconvenience for people when they are unwell. Replacing the walk-in centre and minor injuries unit with urgent treatment centres that are open longer will make it simpler for people to get the care they need quickly and is in line with national policy. The urgent treatment centres will offer booked appointments, although people will still be able to walk in and wait if they prefer.

“There are also obvious benefits of locating urgent treatment centres on the same sites as A&E, if people do present with injuries or illnesses that do need emergency care.”

THE CHANGES AS DESCRIBED BY THE CCG IN FULL

 Change the way people get urgent GP appointments

Groups of GP practices will work together to offer urgent appointments within 24 hours. People will be assessed to decide if they need to see their own GP or can be seen by at a different GP practice in their local area.

 Change where people would go for minor illness and injuries

Currently, there is a walk-in centre in the city centre which treats minor illnesses and a minor injuries unit at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital that deals with adult minor injuries, while children with minor injuries are seen at the emergency department at Sheffield Children’s Hospital. These would be replaced with two urgent treatment centres at Northern General Hospital and Sheffield Children’s Hospital which would treat both minor illness and injuries and offer booked appointments as well as walk-in appointments.

 Change where people go for urgent eye care

Currently adults needing either urgent or emergency eye care are seen at the Emergency eye clinic at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital. In the future, urgent appointments would be offered at opticians and other clinics across the city with extended opening times making it easier for people to get care closer to where they live. Emergency eye care (sight-threatening conditions) would continue to be provided at the Hallamshire.

 Improve the way people access services

These changes would be supported by an improved system where people can contact their practice or 111 and be assessed over the phone. They will then be booked an appointment or signposted to the right place for the care they need.