SOUTH Tynesiders will get the chance to speak to health bosses this week about proposed changes to the borough’s urgent care set-up.
NHS chiefs want to reduce the number of unnecessary visits to A&E, which they say could save up to £2m a year.
They have asked people for their views on a range of proposals, which include:
n Creating a new urgent care “one-stop shop” at South Tyneside District Hospital.
n The closure of Jarrow Walk-In Centre from May 2015.
n Improving people’s access to GPs and pharmacies for minor illnesses and ailments.
Dr David Hambleton, chief officer of NHS South Tyneside Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) – which is responsible for the planning and buying of health services in the borough – will be online at www.shieldsgazette.com on Wednesday to answer your questions in a live web chat about the plans, as part of the public consultation.
CCG officials have held four public meetings on the proposals, with more planned, and particularly want to hear from people across the borough about what they feel should be included within the suggested new urgent care hub.
He said: “Over the last 10 weeks we’ve heard from many people about the proposals. The web chat gives us the chance to give people who’ve not yet had a chance to give their views or would not be able to attend a meeting to ask questions and give their views.”
Dr Hambleton said that when feeling unwell, many people go for the quickest option available, which can often mean heading to A&E, when treatment or advice from a pharmacist, nurse or GP may be the better option.
According to the CCG, 56,508 patients were seen and treated at South Tyneside General Hospital A&E in 2012/13, at a cost of £5.3m.
Of those, 33,379 attendances – 60 per cent of patients – didn’t need any treatment at all and were given verbal or written advice and reassurance.
Urgent care means situations where treatment is needed quickly, but doesn’t require a hospital stay or visit to A&E.
Services include the NHS 111 telephone service, GP practices and out of hours pharmacies and walk-in centres.
Log on to www.shieldsgazette.com on Wednesday for the chance to pose a question to Dr Hambleton.
The NHS South Tyneside CCG has now extended public consultation until August 31.
For more details about the health proposals, visit www.southtynesideccg.nhs.uk