Publish date: 17 January 2023

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A system wide initiative run by DHU Healthcare aimed at providing additional primary care appointments in Derbyshire to support winter is expanding to more areas, relieving pressure on the health system.

The DHU-run Winter Hubs, commissioned by NHS Derby and Derbyshire, started taking appointments in early December at Derby Urgent Treatment Centre (UTC) and Ashgate Manor in Chesterfield. Since the New Year, sites at Ilkeston Hospital and New Mills Health Centre have been added with further hubs at Buxton Medical Practice, Langwith Medical Centre, Moir Medical Centre at Toton and Woodville Surgery to provide additional appointments in the High Peak area.

The aim of the service is to provide more ‘on the day’, face to face GP or Practitioner appointments to reduce the pressure on primary care and support reducing the number of people visiting Emergency Departments (ED) or UTCs who really should be seen by a GP. It’s part of the Derbyshire system’s winter plan to help relieve pressure on the system.

Face to face review from a clinician

Kirsty Osborn is DHU Healthcare’s Deputy Director of Urgent Care (Derbyshire), she said: “We’ve been incredibly busy which is always an indicator that a service is needed and being well used. In the run up to Christmas from opening on the 8th, we provided 739 appointments in Chesterfield and Derby alone. More than half of those were children and for more than 96% of those we were able to provide treatment and advice. As the service expands we expected to see even more of an impact.

“The type of patient we are likely to see is someone who has called their GP practice with acute symptoms and has been assessed as not needing emergency treatment but does need to be seen by a clinician. The criteria is, for example, a condition that is not chronic, complex or requires ongoing care but does need a face to face review from a clinician.”

The hubs are run daily from 9am to 6pm and designed specifically to take the pressure off primary care colleagues and reduce the need for an unnecessary trip to the Emergency Department or an ambulance call out.

Calls to primary care will be assessed by a clinician based within the practice. Where appropriate, they will be referred to DHU Healthcare’s Winter Hub team who will arrange for an appointment depending on clinical priority. The service is being extended to reach more rural areas to further bridge that gap between patients and face to face appointments.

'Prevent their condition from escalating'

Kirsty added: “Our intention was to launch the service in our Derby and Chesterfield clinics to get it off the ground, before extending it to satellite clinics and medical centres in different locations across the High Peak and more rural areas of Derbyshire. It’s a vital part of our system winter plan to help relieve the pressure across the whole system, to provide viable alternatives to EDs, UTCs and GP surgeries, particularly in hours and in areas where, geographically, it’s not always that simple for people to get the help they need.

“We know that all areas of the health service are under pressure and we also know that seeing people early can prevent their condition from escalating. By seeing them as part of this service, not only are we preventing an unnecessary ambulance call out or ED visit, we are also potentially ensuring that conditions are treated effectively before they become serious so are also helping to reduce hospital admissions.

“At DHU Healthcare we are committed to supporting the NHS and wider health system through innovative clinical services such as this one. People need 24 hour access to care and if a service like this can prevent even a handful of hospital admissions and reduce primary care pressure then we are doing our bit for our colleagues and patients.”

Please remember that if you need help and advice quickly about a medical condition, visit 111 online to find out where you need to go to get the treatment and help you need.

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