The Urgent Treatment Centre (UTC), Out of Hours, and Single Point of Access have been transformed over the last year to form the Integrated Urgent Primary Care (IUPC) Services and for all teams to work under one service.
Clinical and non-clinical staff have been cross-trained to work across all services with an aim of creating a GP-led Urgent Primary Care Service in the community. As part of the NHS long-term plan in reducing pressure from the Emergency Department (ED), the UTC has been a success and reduced the number of patients seen in ED with more than half of patients attending ED, being streamed to UTC.
The Urgent Treatment Centre saw over 45,000 patients from April 2019 to March 2020 and has seen a significant increase in the number of patients over the last six to nine months from 150 patients per day to over 300+ per day. Alongside the spike in demand other challenges facing the UTC have included the service's waiting room capacity, waiting times, and staff shortages.
The UTC has recently introduced several improvement projects and worked alongside commissioners, NHS 111, and Barts Health on ways to tackle this. These improvements include access to Extended Primary Care Hubs, 111 UTC direct bookings, introducing a see and treat model, and an appointment-based system to manage internal clinical queues. The UTC also offers services including referrals to Social Prescribing for residents of Tower Hamlets and a GP registration service for those not registered with a GP practice.
Various Clinicians from the Integrated Urgent Primary Care team were deployed to assist in a COVID-19 Project called ‘Admission Avoidance’ in Tower hamlets, which involved a team of GPs, ANPs, and Healthcare Assistants. The aim of the project was to support and manage patients being admitted into hospitals and support patients that were fit to leave the hospital by monitoring them through a virtual ward and home monitoring.
The UTC as a front-facing service went through significant pressure during the COVID-19 Pandemic with staff shortages. The management team would like to thank all the IUPC team for sticking together and ensuring the service was delivered for residents and guests of Tower Hamlets.
The UTC extended its services by supporting the vaccination programme via a Roving Team in the community, ANPs vaccinated vulnerable adults at home and in various care accommodations across Tower Hamlets.
The GP Out of Hours (OOH) service provided primary care support for patients in Tower hamlets via telephone triage, face-to-face appointments, and a home visiting service. This reduced the number of patients attending ED and supported patients to manage their symptoms at home. From March 2019 to April 2021 the OOH service reviewed over 13,000 patients and completed over 800 home visits.
Our Single Point of Access (SPA) Admin Team has worked through the last year processing over 25,000 referrals to specialised clinical teams in the community. The team has also provided telephone service for housebound and palliative care patients residing in Tower Hamlets.