Urgent treatment centres

Urgent treatment centres will be GP-led, open at least 12 hours a day, every day, and be equipped to diagnose and deal with many of the most common ailments people attend A&E for.

Urgent treatment centres will ease the pressure on hospitals, leaving other parts of the system free to treat the most serious cases. The urgent treatment centre offer will result in decreased attendance at A&E, or, in co-located services, the opportunity for streaming at the front door. All urgent treatment centre services will be considered Type 3 / 4 A&E and will contribute to the 4 hour access and waiting times target locally.

Why change?

The patient always comes first, and as outlined in ‘Next Steps’ the NHS’ aim over the next two years is to provide patients with the most appropriate care in the right place, at the right time.

The reasons for this are simple. We all know where to go when life is in danger – A&E. But estimates suggest up to 3 million people who come to A&E each year could have their needs addressed elsewhere in the urgent care system, but patients tell us that the range of alternatives available can be confusing – Walk In Centres, Urgent Care Centres, Minor Injury Units and others with local names and all with differing levels of service. So A&E is understandably the default choice for many people unsure where to turn when they need urgent care or advice.

This is bad for the NHS because it puts unnecessary pressure on A&E and other parts of the urgent and emergency care system, and it’s bad for patients because many are treated in the wrong setting.

So we are introducing new urgent treatment centres, which will standardise this confusing range of options and simplify the system so patients know where to go and have clarity of which services are on offer where.

What’s happening?

The NHS will roll out around 150 urgent treatment centres by December this year and by December 2019 all services designated as urgent treatment centres will meet the guidelines we have now issued.

We have now published the guidance local areas need to get started on setting up new urgent treatment centres. The next step is for Commissioners, supported by NHS England regions, to review current provision against guidelines and make a plan for each facility. Where locally appropriate plans will be subject to consultation so the views of patients and the public will be heard.

View some of the frequently asked questions to support implementation.