Urgent treatment centres

Urgent treatment centres

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23 April 2024

We are introducing urgent treatment centres (UTCs) in Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent as part of a national programme. As part of this, we are looking at the current minor injuries units (MIUs) and walk-in centres (WICs) to see if they are best suited for local needs, or if alternative services can be offered.

How UTCs will make a difference

Having UTCs will help us provide consistent urgent care services that offer treatment quickly and are easier for people to understand and access.

Patients will see improvements compared with the services they can access currently at MIUs and WICs. For example, all UTCs will:

  • have the same opening hours (at least 12 hours a day, 365 days a year)
  • treat patients of all ages
  • treat minor illnesses as well as injuries
  • be able to receive patients who arrive by ambulance
  • be able to access up-to-date electronic patient records.

Booked appointments

You’ll be able to book appointments through NHS 111. If you have an appointment, you’ll be seen within a set time.

We’ll encourage patients to book appointments at UTCs, as this will cut waiting times. Although you could go in without an appointment, you would be likely to wait longer than a patient who has booked in.

More X-ray services

At UTCs, X-ray services will be available during the full opening hours (which is not the case at all units now). They will also be able to do a wider range of X-rays – for example, chest X-rays and X-rays of children from the age of two.

Making every contact count

Where it’s appropriate, UTCs will give patients advice on health and wellbeing, and let them know about other services that might be able to help – such as out-of-hours dental services, stop smoking and sexual health services.

Taking pressure off EDs

By making access to urgent treatment easier and quicker, UTCs should help relieve pressure on EDs, improving patient care and experience there as well.

What UTCs will offer

UTCs will treat many of the common injuries and illnesses that people attend EDs for, including:

  • sprains and strains
  • suspected broken bones
  • abdominal (tummy) pain
  • minor head and eye injuries
  • minor burns and scalds
  • cuts that need stitches
  • feverish illnesses
  • skin infections and rashes.

How we have prepared for setting up UTCs

The ICB has worked with its system partners (like the provider trusts) to make sure that UTCs will strengthen and improve our urgent care services.

In considering the locations for our UTCs, we have looked in detail at:

  • what the demand has been like at different urgent healthcare units (for example, the number of visits and the conditions patients had)
  • our buildings and facilities (for example, accessibility and layout), to see whether they would meet the national criteria for UTCs
  • our existing services and whether they meet UTC criteria
  • staffing, including the need for recruitment and training.

It’s proposed that a UTC could either be a ‘standalone’ unit – this could be as part of a community hospital – or alongside an emergency department in one of the major hospitals.

In the proposals being developed, not all the existing WICs or MIUs would be replaced with a UTC. Where this is the case, we will speak to and involve local people as part of the service change process required by NHS England.

These remain as proposals – no final decisions have yet been made.

Find out more about UTCs

Visit this national NHS webpage, and see an animation about UTCs as well as information about the services provided: https://www.england.nhs.uk/urgent-emergency-care/urgent-treatment-centres/