How we developed our options

We started by developing a large number of potential options to make urgent care services better. We did this through talking to patients, the public and lots of staff who currently work in urgent care.

Throughout December 2016 onwards, we worked closely with partners and providers of NHS services to develop these options. We also made sure we took into account what patients were telling us.

In developing these options, we have worked with representatives from:

  • City Hospitals Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust
  • Local Medical Committee
  • NHS England
  • North Durham and Durham Dales, Easington and Sedgefield CCGs (via NHS North of England Commissioning Support Unit)
  • North East Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust
  • NHS North of England Commissioning Support Unit
  • Northern Doctors Urgent Care (Vocare)
  • Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust
  • South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust
  • Sunderland Care and Support
  • Sunderland City Council
  • Sunderland GP Alliance (a federation of GP practices in Sunderland)
  • The Multispecialty Community Provider Executive Team (made up of lots of health and social care providers in Sunderland)

The process we went through to look at the options

At seven workshops over 18 months, which included representatives from health and social care, we looked at all the possible options that could work in Sunderland.

We also agreed five key principles to guide us.

When developing the options we made sure they fitted with what patients told us ‘what people have told us so far as well as fitting the five key principles.

5 key principles

  1. Be safe, sustainable and provide responsive, high quality care

It is important that people who need medical care have access to the most appropriate level of care to meet their needs.

We want to put a system in place where patients are seen when they need medical help, at the best location for their needs and by a healthcare professional with the specialist skills to treat their condition.

Any improvements that are suggested need to be managed within the resources that are available to us.

  1. Help people to increase self-care (looking after yourself) through access to appropriate medical advice

Many minor illnesses or injuries get better without the need for professional medical help. For healthy people most common illness, such as coughs, cold and flu, will clear up in a few days with a combination of rest and medication from a well-stocked medicine cabinet.

By giving people information about their own healthcare needs, this will help people develop the knowledge, skills and confidence to manage minor healthcare issues themselves. With the right information, many people can also monitor and control long-term conditions such as diabetes or asthma. This will allow more people to live their normal day-to-day lives without requiring emergency appointments. This in turn helps free up resources so that medical professionals are available for those who really need medical help.

  1. Ensure appropriate access to treatment as close to home as possible

Many straightforward healthcare issues are treated using local services such as pharmacies and GPs. But there is a greater range of services currently carried out in hospitals that could be treated in a GP practice or in the community.

We need to focus on patients receiving the right care at the right time, in the right place.

  1. Simplify access by improving integration (making sure everything is joined up) across health and social care and reducing duplication of services

We would like all of the NHS services and systems to be joined up so that people can move between hospital and community services quickly and easily.

  1. Meet national requirements (this includes an urgent treatment centre, the improved NHS 111 service, GP appointments available on evenings and weekends)

We have to follow national guidance and policies set by NHS England. NHS England has stated that urgent and emergency care has to be reviewed so that it is suitable for people of all ages with physical and mental health problems.

We have outlined the options which did not meet the key principles in appendix one. Further detail and information can be found in the ‘Urgent Care Strategy Outline Business Case’ document Urgent Care Strategy OBC FINAL