Since the Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) in Birmingham and Solihull took ownership of urgent care commissioning last autumn, we have been carrying out a review of the existing situation to gain a better understanding of what is available and how best to take this forward.
To date, we have gathered extensive information on services that are currently provided, and how these could be improved for the future. Patient care is paramount and we must ensure that any proposed changes to the system will benefit patients.
The review is a complex programme of work, and we now need to evaluate our findings to establish how we build on good urgent care that is being offered both locally and nationally. Therefore, we anticipate that there will be no significant, widespread changes to the whole urgent care system across Birmingham and Solihull for the next 12 to 18 months. Any alterations to urgent care services are likely to be piloted on a local basis initially.
Due to the complexity of the situation, there is no intention in the short to medium term to close any of the current walk-in centres. During this time we will take the opportunity to review the service specification and opening hours of the current walk-in centres to ensure that they add value to the system.
In conjunction with the existing situation, we will explore piloting co-location of a GP-led service within an A&E department; the evidence nationally is that this is both a safe and effective arrangement. Any changes will initially be made at a local level as a pilot to make sure they work well, before widespread implementation is considered.
We recognise the high level of public interest in the review. We are keen to share information about its development, and we welcome opportunities to discuss how improvements can be made for the benefit of patients. We have attended a number of events in Birmingham and Solihull, including Overview and Scrutiny Committee meetings and the Chief Executives’ Forum, and the following MPs and councillors have contacted us:
- Jack Dromey MP
- Roger Godsiff MP
- Steve McCabe MP
- Andrew Mitchell MP
- Cllr Robert Alden
- Cllr Steve Bedser
- Cllr Lynda Clinton
- Cllr Mariam Khan
We are continuing to engage with patient groups, healthcare providers, Health and Wellbeing Boards and many other interested groups in Birmingham and Solihull to find out their views on urgent care.
Over the coming months, we will develop a strategy which will deliver safe, high quality service health services for our local population. Our aim is to improve access and integration across services, making them more user friendly, and to ensure the right services are available at the right place and time, relieving system pressures on primary and secondary care.
We hope that you will support us as we work towards improving the urgent care system across Birmingham and Solihull.
The West Midlands NHS111 Project Board and the Lead Commissioner – Sandwell and West Birmingham CCG – are monitoring the service on a daily basis to ensure that it is safe and robust, and that it meets patients’ needs and expectations. A more sustainable system of delivery is currently being looked at to take the service forward.