Many people have non-life threatening short term illnesses or health problems for which they need prompt and accessible treatment or advice. This cohort will require non-emergency, but same day, health care, referred to as ‘urgent care’. The Urgent Care Review (Keogh 2013) recognised the need for more accessible, enhanced services which enable same day, every day access to general practitioners and primary care, in order to release capacity in mainstream urgent and emergency care services.
The Five Year Forward View (NHS England, 2014) set out the direction of travel for Urgent and Emergency Care for the next five years. The vision for people with urgent but non-life threatening needs is the provision of responsive, effective and personalised services outside of hospital, as close to people’s homes as possible. The importance of the role of GPs as first line providers of care in non-life-threatening situations therefore is paramount to deliver this in a setting patients know and trust.
The General Practice Forward View (NHS England, 2016) goes further providing investment and commitment to strengthen general practice and improve access to primary care. Funding has been released to enable extra capacity across England and ensure that by 2020, everyone has access to GP services at evenings and weekends to meet locally determined demand.
The SEA Service is available via a hub and spoke delivery model based in the 5 locality defined areas of Sunderland and is available to patients registered with a General Practice in Sunderland. The services are staffed and managed by staff predominantly from practices within the City. The total number of patients registered with GP practices across Sunderland CCG is 283,931 (as at 01/01/17), spread across five localities:
• North – 45,564 patients registered across 8 practices
• East – 47,620 patients registered across 7 practices
• West – 85,910 patients registered across 14 practices
• Washington – 51,291 patients registered across 7 practices
• Coalfields – 49,194 patients registered across 6 practices.
SEAS operates Monday – Friday 6- 8.30pm, weekend and bank holidays based on locally defined population needs. This service continues to be developed and expand; consultation is now taking place with other stakeholders to consider what other additional primary care services SEAS could offer.
AIMS AND OUTCOMES
The Extended Hours in Primary Care agenda supports Sunderland CCGs Vision of Better Health for Sunderland and is in line with the delivery of its strategic objectives to transform out of hospital care; transform in hospital care; and enable self-care and sustainability in the population. It also contributes to meeting the objectives set out in the General Practice Strategy for Sunderland including:
•Sustaining and transforming General Practice to ensure the provision of high quality primary medical care
•Improving patient access
•Ensuring the central, coordinating role of General Practice in delivering out of hospital care
•Encouraging new working arrangements between practices
Karen Swaile; Clinical Contract Manager
Karen Brook; Project Co-ordinator