NEARLY £250,000 has been invested in new GP walk-in centres to ease pressure on Swindon’s emergency department and help care for around 20,000 residents.
Under a pilot, which is expected to be rolled out later this year ahead of the busy winter season, three acute ‘Success Centres’ will launch at the Great Western Hospital, Carfax Medical Centre and Moredon Medical Centre.
They will be open seven days a week to people requiring a one-off consultation for a minor ailment or treatment from 8am until 8pm.
No fewer than 27,565 people were admitted to A&E between October and December 2013.
Hundreds of them attended the emergency unit because they were unable to book an appointment with their GP or needed to be seen out of hours.
Thomas Kearney, the associate director of commissioning at Swindon CCG, said the new scheme would allow the health services to meet patients’ needs more quickly.
“The project aims to identify and assess the current demand for GP appointments across three testing sites within Swindon over the next five years, by increasing the availability of on-the-day requests for a GP appointment or home assessment and treatment by a GP,” he said.
“When we launch the scheme later in the year, the pilot centres will ultimately operate from three locations, the Great Western Hospital site, Carfax Medical Centre and Moredon Medical Practice. These sites will be introduced on a phased basis and we will be contacting patients directly through their GP surgery.
“When the scheme is launched eventually, the potential benefits could be easier access to ‘on the day’ GP assessments at the pilot centres to meet patients’ urgent medical needs, and more time to support our tens of thousands of patients with at least one long-term condition; such as heart disease and COPD.
“It is hoped that along with other schemes we are running, we will be able to reduce the number of people attending A&E when they could be seen more effectively elsewhere.”
As pressure is taken away from the Great Western Hospital and growing demand becomes more manageable, it is expected the three centres will help the health body save £140,000 in 2015-2016 and around £260,000 a year between 2016 and 2019.
“The estimated cost of the scheme is £249,000 but, if successful, could save around £260,000, resulting in both a better experience for our patients as well as further resources which can be invested elsewhere,” he said.
Dr Liz Price, associate medical director for unscheduled care at the Great Western Hospital, said the centres would help significantly reduce demand of the A&E department.
“The CCG is trying to reduce demand on us by putting out facilities in the community and they have plans to open Success Centres.
“A proportion of the people who come to the emergency department could potentially be seen by a GP so the Success Centres can be there for people who were not able to get a GP appointment that day.
“They will just be able to walk in and get one there.”