Further to the recent public engagement drop in sessions for the changes at the Felixstowe Minor Injuries Unit (see here for further details), please see below some FAQs which give further information for those who were unable to attend:
Is the MIU closing?
What is changing at the MIU?
New NHS England guidelines mean that from April 1, 2019, people will no longer be able to walk into the Minor Injuries Unit at Felixstowe Community Hospital without first making an appointment. This is because NHS England is standardising access to all the various urgent treatment centres, drop-in centres and minor injury units across the country.
However, it will still be possible for people to arrange same-day treatment at the MIU via your local GP practice or NHS111.
Why is the service changing?
In order to continue operating a walk-in service, the MIU would have to meet 27 strict criteria set out by NHS England in order to become an Urgent Care Centre, but it currently meets only 11 of them. Where these criteria can’t be met, NHS England says walk-in facilities should be replaced by a GP-led ‘hub’-style model where patients’ needs can be assessed and they can be signposted to local services appropriately.
Will getting an appointment at the MIU involve me waiting for a call back from my GP or NHS111 while they contact the unit to see if one is available?
No, because all four Felixstowe GP practices and NHS111 will have online access to the MIU’s appointments database and will be able to book an appointment for you when you ring them.
How can I be certain I won’t have to wait ages to get through to 111 or my GP in the first place?
Currently, local callers to NHS111 wait (on average) just over a minute to get through to an adviser. We are not aware of any current issues regarding long waiting times for telephone access to GP surgeries in the town. You may have to wait a short while during busy times, but if you have a serious injury that requires immediate attention you should call 999. Even under the current walk-in system patients may still have to wait for treatment.
NHS111 is more likely to send you to A&E – how will they know about the MIU?
All NHS111 advisers have access to a local Directory of Services (DoS). We are currently designing a new algorithm in partnership with MIU staff and the local GP practices which will ensure that from April 1 all NHS 111 advisers will be aware of the services available at the MIU and be able to book appointments there, or with local surgeries, where appropriate.
Will I be able to book an appointment directly with the MIU?
No. In line with NHS England guidance around urgent treatment local people should access services via their local GP practice or NHS111 so they can be appropriately referred or booked-in in line with their care needs.
How many people does the MIU treat at present?
Although demand increases through the busy summer months when the population of the town swells with an influx of holidaymakers, it is rarely used early in the morning or late at night. On average, only two people an hour use the walk-in facility, and one of these is usually a follow-up appointment that could be made with a local GP practice.
Will there be a public consultation?
No. Consultation is a legal process required when an entire facility is to shut, which is not the case here.
Has there been any engagement with interested parties/stakeholders?
Yes, for the last six months CCG staff have been meeting with MIU staff, the Suffolk GP Federation, Community Health, local GP practices and members of local patient participation groups on how the change will be implemented and what other services could be provided from the MIU.
Can’t we bring the MIU up to the standards required for a walk-in facility by doing some work to make it meet the criteria?
It would be prohibitively expense to provide the level of GP, mental health and pharmacy cover required, as well as all the other clinical provision that would be needed to fit the criteria, and the cost could not be justified as there would be more staff than patients. It would be an incredibly inefficient use of resources.
Will the name of the unit change?
There are no firm plans to change the name of the MIU at present, but if it was felt to be necessary at a later stage we would look to canvass the opinions of local people on any new name through further public engagement.
Will the signage change?
Again there are no current plans to change signage but this may be necessary in future.
What hours will the MIU be operating from April 1, 2019?
It is likely that the MIU will be open from 8am to 8pm, seven days a week.
Is this the ‘beginning of the end’ for the MIU?
Absolutely not, in fact quite the contrary. We are currently working on detailed plans to locate a frailty clinic at the MIU. Due to it being a seaside town, Felixstowe has a higher than average elderly population. People are now living longer but many have multiple long-term conditions. Together with the town’s GP practices, and local health and social care colleagues, we are designing a proactive frailty service that will work in the community, and alongside care homes, on falls prevention, end of life care and medication management. This will enable us to intervene earlier in the care of the town’s elderly to prevent our first contact with them from occurring in A&E after a serious fall.
How will patients with hearing difficulties access the service if they have to ring their GP surgery?
Deaf people or those with hearing impairments can access a British Sign Language interpreter via the NHS Interpreter Now service using their laptop, phone or tablet by clicking on http://www.interpreternow.co.uk/nhs111/
Is the service going to change location in future (ie – have you sold the hospital building)?
No. The building is not ours to sell in any event.