Walk-in Centres vs GP-led Health Centres

Posted on January 5, 2010. Filed under: GP-led health centres | Tags: , |

Department of Health | accessed 5 January 2010

Walk-in Centres

NHS Walk-in Centres (WiCs) are predominantly nurse-led first contact services which offer access to treatment and advice without requiring patients to register or make an appointment. NHS WiCs deal with illnesses and injuries – including infections and rashes, fractures and lacerations, emergency contraception and advice, stomach upsets, cuts and bruises, or minor burns and strains – without an appointment. They are not designed for treating long-term conditions or immediately life-threatening problems. Some NHS WiCs offer access to doctors as well as nurses. They are complementary to traditional GP practices, out-of-hours and A&E services.

Most NHS WiCs are open 365 days a year from 7am to 10pm, Monday to Friday, 9am to 10pm Saturday and Sunday. Some are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Hours vary to meet local circumstances.

The first WiC opened in January 2000 and there are now over 90 in England, seeing nearly three million patients per year.

GP health centres

The NHS Next Stage Review Interim Report, Our NHS, Our Future (October 2007) gave a commitment to establish over 100 new GP practices in areas where they are most needed, and 150 GP-led health centres.

Following the 2007 Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR), the Secretary of State for Health announced on 10 October a £250 million access fund to support delivery of new GP services.

The Operating Framework for 2008-09 set a national priority for all PCTs to complete procurements based on open and transparent tenders for new GP-led health centres, and those PCTs identified as having the greatest health need to procure new GP practices.

The Operating Framework for 2009-10 asked PCTs to ensure that there is timely implementation of these new services, including effective communications with the public, so that patients can benefit as soon as possible from improved access and choice. Most services will open to patients in 2009.

Each health centre will be open from 8am until 8pm, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. It will offer bookable appointments and walk-in services for any member of the public; patients can attend the service, either by appointment or on a walk-in basis, while remaining registered elsewhere, or they may choose to register at a centre if it is more convenient than their existing practice.

The first GP health centre was opened by Alan Johnson in Bradford on 1 November 2008; services open are proving popular with the public especially on weekends when traditionally GP practices are closed.

The 152 new GP health centres will more than double the number of walk-in services available in England and deliver more than 2.5 million new GP appointments each year, together with many more appointments with nurses and other staff, and provide more choice and flexibility for patients in how and when they access care.

The 112 practices are being procured in those areas of the country with fewest GPs and greatest health needs, providing more capacity in primary care, and more choice for patients in the most deprived areas of where and when they can access GP services. The PCTs were identified using a balanced range of indicators of local health need and deprivation.

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