Professor Sir Bruce Keogh, the Medical Director of NHS England, officially opened the Urgent Care Centre at the Royal United Hospital today.
And Sir Bruce says he wants to replicate Bath and North East Somerset’s new system across the country and is visiting Bath to understand how out of hours GP services are being integrated with the Emergency Department.
The Urgent Care Centre has been built next to the Emergency Department at the Royal United Hospital (RUH) and opened its doors to patients on April 1.
It is one of the first of its kind in the country and is already helping patients to be treated more quickly whilst reducing the strain on the Emergency Department.
As well as opening the new Urgent Care Centre, Sir Bruce visited the Emergency Department at the RUH and joined a discussion with clinicians and commissioners to discuss their plans for providing urgent care more widely.
Sir Bruce said: “I have been really impressed with what I have seen today at the Urgent Care Centre. It is excellent to see CCGs working closely together with hospitals and GPs to make it easier for patients to access urgent care when they need it.
“No one wants to sit and wait for hours when they need care urgently and by having GPs and nurse practitioners located next to the Emergency Department it means that patients can be seen more quickly and by the appropriate person no matter the time of day or night.”
The funding for the Centre has come from Bath and North East Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group (BaNES CCG) which is responsible for planning and purchasing NHS services across Bath and North East Somerset.
The CCG engaged with a wide range of people to design the new service including Wiltshire CCG, local GPs, the RUH, patients and the public.
Dr Ian Orpen, chair of BaNES CCG, said: “It took many years of hard work and collaboration to design and deliver the new Urgent Care Centre and so we are delighted that Sir Bruce has been able to take time out of his busy diary to come and see what we have achieved for our patients here in Bath and North East Somerset.
“The CCG is working really hard to ensure that patients are seen as quickly as possible when they need urgent treatment and we hope that the changes we have made in Bath are going to inspire improvements for patients right across the country.”
RUH chairman Brian Stables said: “We were delighted to welcome Sir Bruce to the RUH today to show him the new Urgent Care Centre and how our clinicians have integrated this with our excellent Emergency Department to ensure that patients are receiving the most appropriate care as quickly as possible.
"We were also able to discuss the wider changes we have made to urgent care as part of our journey of continuous quality improvement.”
The Urgent Care Centre is operated by Bath and North East Somerset Doctors Urgent Care (BDUC) which is part of the Vocare Group, an organisation which already delivers GP Out of Hours services to 2.2 million people across Staffordshire and the North East of England.
Dr Mike Harrison, organisational medical director of Vocare, said: “We have worked hard with colleagues from RUH, BaNES CCG and local GPs to develop the service.
"It is working well and is delivering an excellent service for patients. It has attracted a lot of interest nationally with over 40 NHS commissioners from the rest of the country recently attending an open day at the centre.”