Winter hubs help meet patient need and reduce pressure on GPs

An initiative run by community interest company DHU Healthcare aimed at providing additional primary care appointments in Derbyshire to support with greater demand in winter is expanding to more areas, relieving pressure on the health system.

The DHU-run Winter Hubs, commissioned by NHS Derby and Derbyshire Integrated Care Board (DDICB), 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, as well as 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 could more appropriately be seen by a GP. This is part of the Derbyshire system’s winter plan to help relieve pressure on the system.

Kirsty Osborn, DHU Healthcare’s Deputy Director of Urgent Care (Derbyshire), 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.

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.