Urgent care hub to be created at St Albans City Hospital

St Albans City Hospital.

St Albans City Hospital. - Credit: Google Street View

Plans to re-open St Albans' urgent care centre next year have been given the thumbs-up from local residents.

The minor injuries unit at City Hospital has been temporarily closed during the pandemic, but a new service is likely to be introduced in the spring.

Herts Valley Clinical Commissioning Group is currently reviewing what services a walk-in unit should provide if and when the site does reopen.

Health bosses told the district council's Health and Wellbeing Partnership that plans for a new nurse-led Urgent Care Hub have been well supported by residents.

The CCG commissioned the consultation to run June and August to shape the future of the service, and received 3,205 responses in total.

Managing director David Evans said the high level of engagement proved there was significant support for their current preferred option

That option will see the creation of an integrated urgent care hub, allowing the centre to provide minor illness and injury services and same day access to urgent care.

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It would be led by senior experienced nurses, with the support of GPs, integrated with existing GP extended access and out of hours services. The hub would also offer access to diagnostic services, such as blood and urine testing, electrocardiogram (ECG) and X-ray.

Other options on the table were to close permanently, to reopen as it was, or to function as a Urgent Treatment Centre – which would be led by GPs with the support of emergency nurses and carers.

While the “gold standard” urgent treatment centre was the most popular option with 91 percent support, 83 percent of people asked supported the trust’s preferred integrated urgent care hub.

There had been concerns that the urgent care hub could become appointment only through the NHS 111 system, and residents raised concerns about the loss of walk-in facilities and limited opening hours. However, they also welcomed more services coming to St Albans, including treatment of minor illnesses.

The research also found that minor illness, rather than injury, was the most common reason for people seeking urgent care, with hopes the new service could take pressure off other parts of the system including GPs.

Alex Hickinbotham, who represents patients on the board, said they were “fully supportive” of the CCG’s plans.

She told councillors: “We would always want to go for the best, but we realise we have to be pragmatic about things and the urgent care service, if it provides the links to the other services rapidly, would be the option of choice.”

Mr Evans explained that the findings of the research would be presented to the Integrated Care System Board later this month, with an outline business case on the chosen option produced next month. 

Work on implementing any changes to the service is expected to take place early next year. 

The services will be provided at the same location within St Albans City Hospital, and will not require any further building work.

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