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NHS England unveils urgent care vision


2 June 2014

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New networks are being developed by NHS England to improve urgent care. 
Strategic urgent care networks will be used to commission and coordinate urgent and emergency services across a wide geographical area, NHS England has revealed. 
The groups will have "clear objectives" brining together relevant stakeholders to plan, assure and monitor performance. 
Below the strategic networks, operational networks will exist to facilitate clinical interactions locally. 

New networks are being developed by NHS England to improve urgent care. 
Strategic urgent care networks will be used to commission and coordinate urgent and emergency services across a wide geographical area, NHS England has revealed. 
The groups will have "clear objectives" brining together relevant stakeholders to plan, assure and monitor performance. 
Below the strategic networks, operational networks will exist to facilitate clinical interactions locally. 
Professor Jonathan Benger, clinical director for urgent care at NHS England wrote in a letter: "We are talking about communities of clinicians who are working together to get the best outcomes for patients, and ensure services are provided in the most appropriate and effective way." 
Under the newly proposed system, strategic urgent care networks will designate two types of emergency receiving hospital – emergency centres and major/specialist emergency centres.
Emergency centres will assess and initiate treatment for all patients (meaning both adults and children with physical and/or mental health needs) and safely transfer them when necessary. 
Major/specialist emergency centres will tend to be larger units, capable of assessing and initiating treatment as well as providing a range of complimentary highly specialist services. 
However, the difference between centres will not "be apparent to the public" as the centres will be "visually the same" NHS England have claimed. 
Professor Benger wrote: "The important point is that they all provide a consistent, high-quality service and through the efficient functioning of the network, will ensure that every patient accesses the care they need in a timely way.
"And for those people who need urgent care, but not necessarily in an emergency, we want to make the system much clearer. Currently, services are inconsistent and patients can be unsure where and how to access the right care." 
Urgent Care Centres will bridge this gap. They will encompass all existing urgent care facilities which are not Emergency Departments such as Walk-in Centres, Minor Injuries Units and “Darzi” Centres.
"We are engineering a huge change for the NHS and to make it work we need our workforce to understand it, and work alongside us to deliver it. Much of this operational work will soon be in the hands of the new Networks, and we look forward to being ready to disseminate this challenge," he added. 
"While it is absolutely imperative that we change urgent care in secondary settings, primary care evolution is also crucial. GPs will play a pivotal role in the new system, and significant changes in this area must precede an overhaul in secondary care. If the provision of primary and community services is not addressed, secondary care transformation will never realise its true potential." 
The full letter is available to view on the NHS England website.

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