NHS Sheffield Clinical Commissioning Group

We want you to have more care closer to your home...

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Consultation FAQs

have your say on urgent care

1. People are genuinely worried about extra travelling 

Concerns around travelling to Northern General Hospital and parking at the site is one of the main themes in the feedback we have received so far and we will be considering this feedback very carefully when we look at making a decision. This will take into account both the factual information around journey distances and times that we are collecting and people’s feelings/perceptions.

This information will be included in the analysis and report on the consultation. It will be reviewed by the project team leading this work and also by the CCG’s primary care commissioning committee, which will take the final decision about how to proceed.


2. This is not fair for people in the south of the city who will have to travel further (to get to Northern General)

These changes would improve access to urgent GP appointments so fewer people need to travel outside their local area to get care.

Similarly, we are bringing eye care closer to where people live – it will be provided at multiple locations across the city rather than just at the Hallamshire so will be easier for people in the south of the city to access.


3. Why are you closing the eye clinic?

We are not closing the eye clinic. This was mistakenly reported in The Star but our proposal is to keep the clinic at the Hallamshire for emergency eye care and provide urgent eye care at community locations across the city which will be open for longer.


4. Will GPs be supported to deliver improved access to urgent care?

GP practices will be supported to work together to offer urgent appointments within 24 hours. In Sheffield, GP practices already work together in small groups known as Neighbourhoods to serve their local area. These Neighbourhoods each have their own health and social needs so it would be up to their practices collectively to decide the best local approach for handling urgent appointments together; there’s no one size fits all to this.

Neighbourhoods are at various stages of development right now and the CCG would continue to support and work through this with practices if the proposals go ahead.


5. Why are you making changes to the Emergency Eye Clinic?

Around half of patients who currently use the Emergency Eye Clinic have an urgent, rather than a sight-threatening problem.  These patients could be treated by clinicians within their local communities, such as local opticians. This would mean less travel for people and many opticians also have longer opening times than the current service. 

We think this would offer more convenience for patients and would allow the staff at the hospital to concentrate on treating patients with emergency sight-threatening problems.

Opticians already provide the successful PEARS scheme in Sheffield, which was set up to provide a quick and convenient way of treating minor eye problems and has been very well received by patients. 

The emergency eye clinic is nurse-led and people are only referred to a consultant if they need that level of care. This would not change if the service was provided in the community; anyone who needed to see a consultant would be booked an appointment as they are now.


6. Is this about saving money?

It’s not about saving money; it’s about making the best use of resources and the redesign does not result in significant savings to what we spend each year on urgent care. We have a duty to ensure that we buy services which provide value for your money. We believe we can get greater value for money if we invest more of this money in primary care and our GP practices.

Right now in Sheffield, we have too many services that are providing similar treatment, often at the same time. This not only causes confusion for patients about the best place to go but is not good use of NHS resources.


7. Why haven’t you given any details of where these services would be provided?

Before we work up detailed plans and start discussions with local opticians, we need to understand what people in Sheffield think about this approach so this is one of the things we are consulting people on.


8. Moving the walk-in centre and minor injuries unit will put more pressure on services elsewhere because it will be harder for people to get there.

These plans are about easing the pressure on services and at the same time improving access to urgent care. We know that demand for urgent appointments in the daytime can have a knock on effect for other healthcare providers in the city. If we can improve access to GP services in the daytime, this will help to reduce some of the pressures on A&E.


9. Can I still turn up and wait to see someone if you are planning to close the walk-in centre and minor injuries unit?

The walk-in centre and minor injuries unit are being replaced with urgent treatment centres. People will still be able to get walk-in appointments as well as booked appointments.


10. The walk-in centre is convenient for lots of people in town. How are these changes better?

These changes will improve access to urgent GP appointments, so that everyone can get an appointment for the care they need within 24 hours. This includes practices in the city centre so it will be easier for people at these practices to get urgent GP appointments.

Replacing the walk-in centre with urgent treatment centres will make it simpler for people to get the treatment they need as quickly as possible.


11. The vulnerable groups who use the walk-in centre will be disadvantaged

The biggest users of the walk-in centre are students and city workers.

However, this was a big concern for us and we carried out extensive engagement with vulnerable groups to understand their experience of using urgent care services and their needs. Many people told us that they only used the walk-in centre if they were sent there by another service and that they were confused about where to get the care they need.

Also, vulnerable groups tend to need more tailored support and continuity of care we need to make sure this happens. For example, we run GP clinics in the city for homeless people who are often not registered with a practice and would continue to do this. The key to making sure these people get the right care is making sure they can access GP appointments, which is what we are aiming to achieve with our proposed approach.


12. Why do we need urgent treatment centres?

Evidence shows that it isn’t just people in Sheffield that find the current system confusing. People across the country find it confusing too. Walk-in centres, urgent care centres, minor injury units and others with their own local names and all with differing levels of service, make it really difficult for people to choose the right service for urgent care or advice.

NHS England has said that all areas across the country need to introduce urgent treatment centres to standardise this confusing range of options and simplify the system so that patients are clear where to go.

Nationally, the plan is to roll out for all patients to have access to an urgent treatment centre by December 2019. In Sheffield, these changes won’t happen this year but once we’ve reviewed all the consultation feedback, we’ll be in a position to give a more definitive timeline and details of how urgent treatment centres will work in Sheffield.


13. Why can’t the Urgent Treatment Centre be sited at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital instead of at the Northern General Hospital?

This was considered as an option in the early stages of the process but was ruled out because:

  • It meant that patients would have to travel to a different site (Northern General) if their condition was more serious than they initially thought.
  • It was not logistically feasible – the lack of space is a key issue and it would not help us to manage the workforce challenges effectively. 
  • guidance nationally requires that urgent treatment centres are co-located with A&E departments to provide treatment for minor illness and injuries in one place removing confusion for patients.

Whilst we adhere to these requirements, we need to make sure we site the urgent treatment centre correctly and ensure we support people as much as we can with how they can access urgent care and the urgent treatment centre should they ever need it.


14. Do these changes mean I won't be able to use my local GP practice anymore?

Absolutely not. Firstly, these changes only relate to urgent care - there are no changes to planned appointments and care whatsoever.

If you have an urgent care need and you need continuity of care (seeing the same healthcare team for your ongoing condition) then you will be seen in your own GP practice in practice hours. If you need an urgent GP appointment but it is not for an existing or long-term condition, you may be seen at a practice close by.  Alternatively you can choose to be seen at the urgent treatment centre instead. 

In the evenings and at weekends, urgent GP appointments will be still be available but you might have to travel a little further, or you will be offered a booked appointment at the urgent treatment centre. 


15. What about urgent GP appointments when practices are closed?

At evenings and weekends, you will simply need to call your GP practice or NHS 111 who will assess if you need to be seen urgently. Your appointment could be at one of four satellite GP hubs - so no change to what happens right now – or at the urgent treatment centre.


16. What data did you use to come up with these proposals?

We used audit data provided to us by our local providers and GP practices. Before the consultation started, we had to use this data to develop a case for change for NHS England. This was for them to check and ensure we had carried out robust background work first before launching the consultation. 

If the proposals go ahead, there will still be lots more data to consider and review with our partners before we can roll out any changes.


17. How is this any simpler?

It is simpler because all you will need to do is contact your GP practice or NHS 111 and they will assess your needs and direct you to the right place to get the care you need. If you still want to turn up and wait for treatment, you can visit the urgent treatment centre.

It will also make it easier for people to get the care they need close to where they live by improving access to urgent GP appointments and bringing urgent eye care services into local communities.

Our preferred option for how the UTCs would work would mean that all services for adults would be in one place, and all those for children on one site, so it will make it easier for people to know where to go.


18. Parking at Northern General Hospital

This is a concern that has already been raised and we will we look into it. In terms of costs, people have to pay for parking at the walk-in centre and minor injuries unit so this will not be a change. At the moment, many people have told us they drive to the walk-in centre because they can’t get a GP appointment. 

And if the proposals go ahead, some people have told us they are worried about travel and parking at the new urgent treatment centre at Northern General. If we improve access to urgent appointments at GP practices though, there will be far less need to travel to the urgent treatment centre.


19. Privatisation of the NHS

One of the ways we think we can provide more urgent eye care in the community is via local optometrists (eye specialists). A number of people have fed back that they're worried this means privatisation of the NHS but it would be no different to how the CCG commissions (buys) the services of GPs and pharmacists right now - who are also technically private businesses.

Like GPs, optometrists who work in your local opticians provide NHS services. We already commission a number of optometrists across Sheffield to provide the PEARS scheme which offers quick, convenient treatment locally for minor eye problems.

The same goes for the providers of urgent care services in the city. Currently services are provided by both NHS providers (Sheffield Teaching Hospitals provides the minor injuries unit service) and private companies (OneMedicalGroup provides the walk-in service). As with all services, we go through a tender process to select the best providers for urgent care services in Sheffield.

The Kings Fund produced a helpful short video about how the NHS in England works and is funded which you can view here.


20. What consideration has been given to the increased impact on A&E while services transition, and how will this be managed? 

We do not anticipate an impact on A&E as a result of the proposed changes as the walk-in centre and minor injuries unit would not be closed until the new arrangements were in place. Under our preferred option the UTC would be co-located with A&E which already has a clinical streaming pathway in place to signpost inappropriate attendances back to primary care.


21. When would any changes take place?

If the changes go ahead following the consultation, we expect that they will be fully in effect by April 2020. No changes will be made this winter.

This is to allow time for all the work to be done to implement the changes, including things like:

  • agreeing new contracts 
  • getting the IT and access to full patient records to happen correctly and safely within practices
  • working with GP practices to make arrangements for how they will provide urgent appointments in their local area.


22. Have you already made up your minds about these proposed changes?

Absolutely not. The aim of a public consultation is to gather all the information to make sure that our decision is properly informed.  We want to hear your views about what we are proposing and how you think we can improve urgent care in Sheffield and there are many ways to give your feedback. Should any alternative viable options come up then we would consider it. 


23. How can people have their say?

You can read more about the proposed changes and what this means for you in the consultation documents provided here. If you would like a printed copy or a copy in another format (easy-read, Braille, alternative language), please call us on 0114 305 4609.

Once you have read the proposals, have your say by:

You’ll also find our teams out and about in supermarkets, waiting rooms and a range of community organisations throughout the consultation period. Follow us on social media or keep visiting our website for up to date details.

NHS Sheffield Clinical Commissioning Group

722 Prince of Wales Road
S9 4EU