Changes to out-of-hours urgent care services are set to be introduced in Lichfield and Tamworth on 4 April 2016, to help ensure that patients are seen by the right person in the right place, first time.
The opening hours of the region’s minor injuries units will be reduced, with the facilities at Tamworth's Sir Robert Peel Community Hospital opening from 8am to 10pm and at Lichfield’s Samuel Johnson Community Hospital opening from 8am to 9pm.
Patients seeking help outside of these hours can contact NHS 111 for advice or referral and many pharmacies are also open until late in the evening and can offer advice on treatment.
Andy Donald, Accountable Officer for South East Staffordshire and Seisdon Peninsula Clinical Commissioning Group said: “Under these changes the vast majority of patients will see no change to their service, as they are treated outside of the hours when the minor injuries units will be closed.
"But we do have a responsibility to ensure that our services offer the public the greatest value for money, and we will be reducing the current duplication of services at times of very low activity.
“This means we will be able to make real savings during a time of great financial challenges as supporting primary care needs in a primary care setting, rather than in a hospital setting, is far more cost effective.
"Patients will be redirected to use services already commissioned such as pharmacy services, NHS 111, GP practices, and GP out-of-hours services which can be accessed through NHS 111 – ensuring that patients see the right person, at the right time."
The services were changed after studies showed that more than half of attendances at the minor injuries units were for conditions that are often treated more cost effectively in primary care – such as through GP appointments and pharmacy visits – and revealed there was a costly duplication in services commissioned for urgent care.
They also clearly showed that there were very low numbers of patients attending during the overnight period.
Mr Donald added that members of the public wanted a highly responsive service that delivered care as close to home as possible, minimising disruption and inconvenience for patients, carers and families.
Anyone needing emergency care for more serious or life-threatening conditions needed to be treated in centres with the right expertise, processes and facilities to help them – services a minor injuries unit could not provide, he added.
Any patients currently turning up at a minor injuries unit with a serious problem would have to be transferred to A&E, leading to delays in them receiving appropriate treatment.
It has been estimated that the changes to the minor injuries units’ opening hours will save the local health economy around £317,000 each year, which will be reinvested in other services.
The changes were developed with East Staffordshire CCG as lead commissioner, in partnership with Burton Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, South East Staffordshire and Seisdon Peninsula CCG GP members, and taking into account the views of local councillors, stakeholders and patients following extensive public engagement in 2015.
For a full list of NHS services available in your area, day and night – including GPs, urgent care, hospitals, pharmacies and dentists, visit www.nhs.uk
The A&E departments at Queen’s Hospital in Burton or Good Hope Hospital in Sutton Coldfield are open 24-hours-a-day for the most urgent or serious issues.