The GP Care Group’s Urgent Treatment Centre (UTC) is a GP-led healthcare service which operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The NHS recognises how confusing it can be for patients to know where to go for the right care for their urgent medical concerns, which is why Tower Hamlets residents can access the UTC service for urgent but not life-threatening health concerns.
We spoke to Clinical Lead Nurse, Julie Eldridge to highlight 10 things you should know about our Urgent Treatment Centre service and a peek into the sort of care you can expect from the team.
What is the UTC and who is it for?
The Urgent Treatment Centre is a GP led service with nurse practitioners that is for patients with worrying health care needs that they would consider to be urgent but not life threatening, and they are unable to wait for a GP appointment.
For example, sprains and strains, broken bones, headaches, swollen lower limbs, and a multitude of conditions that patients would previously have walked into A&E or an Emergency department with. These conditions are not so serious that a patient’s life is at risk but we need to make sure that they’re assessed and the patient is stable and safe to go home.
How can people access and contact the service?
Patients can access the UTC by calling NHS 111 or by walking into the Emergency Department where they will be transferred to the Urgent Treatment Service if their conditions fall within what our service provides.
The Emergency Department will make sure patients are well enough to come to the UTC and will check there is no life-threatening emergency.
Where is the service based?
It’s based on the Royal London Hospital site in Whitechapel behind the Emergency Department, across Stepney Way..
What health issues does the service cover?
All kinds of health complaints, such as minor injuries and minor illnesses.
What sort of care and treatment does the service provide?
If the patient needs an emergency blood test we would do this, but only for emergency cases and not general blood tests which are done at the GP surgery. We also offer x-rays and refer to onward services if necessary.
How quickly can patients be seen?
Patients are prioritised according to need, but we aim to see all our patients and treat them within four hours. We are limited by the space available to us which means there is a limit to the number of staff we can deploy, and when there are a lot of patients, particularly at peak lunch and early evening times, the waits can be longer.
To alleviate this, we have been piloting an overflow clinic in the Goodman’s Field surgery in Aldgate. Depending on your condition you may be offered an appointment there by the UTC team which can reduce your wait.
What sort of professional would people see?
Depending on their condition people will either see a General Practitioner (GP) or an Advanced Nurse Practitioner (ANP).
What are the opening times?
The service runs 24/7, 365 days a year
Can patients bring a child, family member or friend who doesn’t need to be seen?
We ask that only the patient attends the service because space in the waiting area is limited. Exceptions are made for Carers, and where people have young children and are not able to find a babysitter.
What procedures does the service have for infection control?
In the waiting rooms and clinical areas, both clinicians and patients are expected to wear masks.