Town hospital could get new ‘A&E Local’ unit

The minor injuries unit waiting area at Spalding's Johnson Community Hospital.
The minor injuries unit waiting area at Spalding's Johnson Community Hospital.
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The minor injuries unit at Spalding’s Johnson Community Hospital could become a new kind of accident and emergency department as part of an overhaul of Lincolnshire health services.

A “Brave New Ideas” blueprint has been put together to take a fresh look at how all health services can be offered across the county.

It is feared that unless brave decisions are taken there could be an annual overspend of more than £105million in five years time.

The blueprint aims to look at possibilities for how care will look in the next three to five years.

One of the areas under consideration is the provision of urgent care – covering accident and emergency admissions to hospital.

The blueprint, which will be consulted on with interested parties in the new year, include leaving urgent care services unchanged, but the document says the option is “not sustainable”.

The other brave idea being considered is a single main A&E department covering the whole county, supported by a number of 24-hour “A&E Locals/A&E Care Centres”, which would consolidate the work of the current minor injuries units, primary care centres and urgent care centres.

The blueprint says the location of a single main A&E department would require further analysis, but would need to focus on co-location with specialist facilities such as trauma and intensive care, while factoring in impact on travel times.

But it says new A&E Locals would be able to provide an “extended scope” of services compared to the current minor injury units and would cut travel times to the existing A&E departments, which on average from South Holland currently equal around 39 minutes by car.

The “extended scope” would include other “urgent care” services such as community, mental and social care services and would be a seven day a week service, although there is some question about whether it would provide out-of-hours care.

It has been projected that the move could save the NHS between £36million and £43million by reducing A&E admissions and “bed days” on the wards.

But it is feared it could lead to a “walk-in syndrome”, where people would use the service as an alternative to their own GP, creating extra demand, and that GPs would be resistant to the plans.

The viability of the move to A&E Locals would also depend on the space and facilities available at sites such as Johnson Community Hospital.