Urgent treatment centres provide ideal alternative to A&E

Urgent care services across the Fylde Coast have been renamed in an effort to make things simpler for people living in the area.

The walk-in centre in Whitegate Drive, Blackpool, and same day centre in Fleetwood, Dock Street, are now both called ‘urgent treatment centres’.

The move is part of a national drive to standardise all urgent care services across the UK by December 2019 and make it easier for patients to understand the service offer. Urgent treatment centres will all offer the same level of service, no matter where they are in the country.

Last year, the Blackpool and Fleetwood services were improved to offer both walk-in and pre-booked appointments in order to meet the new urgent treatment centre standard. Pre-booked appointments are available by calling NHS111 between 8am and 8pm seven days a week. Previously the same day centre was only available for appointments booked in advance while the walk-in centre did not offer pre-booked appointments.

Speaking on behalf of the Fylde Coast NHS, David Bonson, chief operating officer at NHS Blackpool Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: “Many patients are understandably confused about which part of the NHS offers which service, and by then relying on A&E they are being treated in wrong setting. This is bad for the local NHS because it puts unnecessary pressure on A&E and other parts of the urgent and emergency care system.

“The new standard brings in a clear and comprehensive offer to patients. Urgent treatment centres are usually a GP led service, open for at least 12 hours a day, every day of the week, every week of the year – including bank holidays – and offering pre-bookable appointments.

“They have access to simple diagnostics such as swabs and pregnancy tests and have access to x-ray facilities, as well as a range of other services. They can also issue prescriptions and e-prescriptions.”

Apart from the name changes, there are no further changes planned to the services on offer at the urgent treatment centres or the way they are delivered.


Notes to editors:

What is an urgent treatment centre?

An urgent treatment centre is where a person goes if they need urgent medical attention, but

A&E isn’t the right place for them. UTCs will bring a high level of fast and efficient emergency care closer to home for millions of people.

NHS 111 will book patients an appointment at an urgent treatment centre if needed following a telephone consultation with a medical professional, or patients can just walk in. If clinically necessary an ambulance can take a patient to an urgent treatment centre after a call to 999 or 111.

If a patient pre-books they should be seen and treated within 30 minutes of their appointment time, and patients who “walk in” should be clinically assessed within 15 minutes of arrival and be given an appointment slot not more than 2 hours after arrival, only being prioritised for treatment over pre-booked appointments where this is clinically necessary.

Urgent treatment centres operate as part of a joined up network of urgent and emergency care services, with referral pathways into emergency departments and specialist services if the patient needs it.


What sort of patients would be suitable for referral, or to turn up to a UTC?

If life is in danger, patients should still call 999 or go to A&E.. But for ailments that need urgent treatment such as strains and sprains, fevers, eye problems or suspected broken limbs, an urgent treatment centre is much more appropriate.

Examples of the types of patients with conditions suitable for treatment at a UTC include:

  • Strains and sprains
  • Suspected broken limbs
  • Minor head injuries
  • Cuts and grazes
  • Bites and stings
  • Minor scalds and burns
  • Ear and throat infections
  • Skin infections and rashes
  • Eye problems
  • Coughs and colds
  • Feverish illness in adults
  • Feverish illness in children
  • Abdominal pain
  • Vomiting and diarrhoea
  • Emergency contraception