Future of urgent care
We know that local people have been worried about the future of the local Minor Injuries Units (MIUs) after news reports in the summer suggested these might close.
Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) are responsible for planning and paying for urgent and emergency care services locally. They currently fund MIUs in Ely, Wisbech and Doddington. These units provide some urgent care services to people living in the more rural parts of our county.
The CCG told us that no decisions has been made about the future of the MIUs. An early draft document had been leaked to the media which recommended closures; however, this had already been rejected by an internal operational meeting that said a lot more work needed to be done. Any changes in services can only take place after a public consultation.
However, the CCG do need to look at the future of all urgent and emergency care services in the county.
Why the CCG need to look at different options for the MIUs
The MIUs don’t meet the draft Keogh Standards for services that should be provided by an Urgent Care Centre. This includes being open for 16+ hours, always having diagnostic services like x-ray available, and offering a wider range of services. The current MIUs offer good quality care but a narrow range of services, so do not currently achieve this standard. The services they offer are under-used, whilst other urgent and emergency care services are under severe pressure.
The CCG has a limited budget for the local population, so has to make best use of the money available. They have to develop a five-year Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP), to help them plan care for the future. The draft of this is called Fit for the Future, and includes looking at urgent and emergency care services for everyone in the county. All the CCGs in the country have to develop an STP.
The CCG have held meetings across the county over the last six weeks to talk to people, hear their opinions and answer questions. It was not part of a formal consultation.
We have been to each of these meetings to hear what people had to say and have logged all of issues raised. We know people are passionate about the future of their local hospitals and the services provided. There are worries about having to travel for treatment; about change bringing chaos and which services will be affected.
People also shared lots of positive thoughts about how services could work better together; for example, offering different services at MIUs to reduce the pressure on GPs.
The CCG told people that the kind of services offered by the Minor Injures Units would still be provided in the future; however, although it will still be local, it may need to be provided in a different way. They want to integrate with other services locally such as community services, GPs, the joint emergency team (JET) and potentially social care.
The CCG will need to look at changing how all urgent care services are provided in the future.
There will be a formal public consultation at the end of 2016, early 2017. They will make a decision after the consultation.
What Healthwatch is doing
As a local Healthwatch, we will be making sure the CCG are listening to people's opinions and responding to their questions about any potential changes. We will want to see a consultation that is open and honest. When new services are developed, we will want to be able to see how they have been shaped by this consultation process, to meet local people's needs.