Urgent Health UK (UHUK), the federation of social enterprise providers of out-of-hospital urgent care, has today launched a position statement at the Houses of Commons outlining seven calls for a more integrated urgent and emergency care sector.

As winter pressures begin to take their toll, the challenges facing the urgent and emergency care sector are more significant than ever before and made worse by the lack of integration and coordination between services. With pressure in the system showing no signs of slowing in 2015, UHUK’s position statement outlines their overall vision for a locality based single access point centre to join up and coordinate services.

To achieve UHUK’s vision and to address the grave challenges facing the NHS, the following seven calls must be taken forward:

1)      Commission services in a way that fosters partnership working: Real integration underpinned by collaboration and a commitment to long term contracts (7 years +).

2)      Co-locate primary unscheduled care services with A&E: With the back-up of emergency medicine services, patients will be expertly assessed and treated in an environment that suits their needs.To make this possible, obstacles such as the tariff system that dis-incentivise the take-up of effective treatment must be addressed.

3)      Provide 24-7 access to diagnostic services. Local access to full, 24-7, diagnostic services including more consideration of Near Patient Testing, helping to improve health outcomes and the patient experience.

4)      Develop  robust  processes  for  hospital  discharge  and  support  in  the  community. With some patients requiring social care assessments, capacity assessments, mental health assessments and best interests’ assessments - a fully resourced, seven days a week hospital discharge system is needed to prevent unnecessary admittances.

5)      Address severe workforce challenges: Adapting and expanding the make-up and skills of primary health care teams and to break down the key obstacles to recruitment and retention such as high indemnity costs, risks related to current HMRC investigations of employment status and reduced recruitment rates.

6)      Enhance access to patient records and special patient notes. To deliver the highest and most appropriate care, around the clock, single access point control centres and other urgent care providers must have better access to records.

7)      Contract in a more financially realistic way. Workforce availability and GP and primary care clinician pay levels must be revised to ensure they are competitive with daytime hourly rates for locums.

Commenting, Chief Executive of Urgent Health UK John Horrocks said:

“These seven calls are a vital component in achieving a sustainable health and care system that delivers for patients.  

“UHUK’s vision for a locality based single access point centre to join up and coordinate services can play an integral role in ensuring the allocation of resources in the NHS and care system are distributed according to the needs of patients.

Commenting, Chairman of Urgent Health UK Simon Abrams added:

“We are committed to this vision and are keen to engage with all stakeholders across the health and care system and to encourage politicians to reach a consensus on how UHUK’s seven calls can be delivered in the long term.”