New service to help patients in the Thames Valley get improved access to urgent healthcare

The new NHS 111 service is up and running - pictured top row are Carol Trower, chief executive officer for Thames Valley Pharmacy, Philip Astle, chief operating officer for SCAS and bottom row is James Ray, emergency department consultant for Oxford NHS Foundation Trust
The new NHS 111 service is up and running - pictured top row are Carol Trower, chief executive officer for Thames Valley Pharmacy, Philip Astle, chief operating officer for SCAS and bottom row is James Ray, emergency department consultant for Oxford NHS Foundation Trust

A new service has been launched across the Thames Valley to help patients get improved access to urgent care services.

A new Integrated Urgent Care Service has been launched across the Thames Valley giving patients the chance to access dental, pharmacy and mental health services through one single telephone call.

The service, which was launched on September 5, can be accessed by calling 111.

Philip Astle, chief operating officer at South Central Ambulance Service, who are providing the new service said: “From today, patients will continue to call the 111 number and the trained call handler will assess the person’s needs.

“They will be able to arrange for the patient to see or speak to a clinically trained healthcare professional, including GPs where this is clinically appropriate.

“It is expected that approximately 30 per cent of calls will be handled by a clinically trained healthcare professional from day one of the new service.

“For the launch, clinicians will be based at SCAS Headquarters in Bicester and at the Berkshire Healthcare Hub in Wokingham, linked via a telephone network to allow seamless management of patients.”

Sam Burrows, the senior responsible officer for the delivery of the service said: “In 2015, NHS England announced that NHS 111 would integrate with out-of-hours providers to form an integrated urgent care model with the intention of delivering a more streamlined service, increasing the chance of getting the patient to the right place, first time.

“To bring about the Thames Valley Integrated Urgent Care (TVIUC) service, a new specification was developed, with an enhanced form of triage, a new workforce, new commissioning standards and quality measures.

“Clinical governance of this new model will be a joint process with regional leadership and central oversight.”

Among the improvements to the previous service which offered access to urgent healthcare in the area are:

> GP clinical leadership and triage within the service

> Dental nurse assessment

> Community psychiatric nursing and improved access to mental health crisis teams across the week

> Paediatric specialists

> Prescribing pharmacist

> Tailored support to care and nursing homes

> Early intervention for under-fives, over 85s and end of life patients

> Direct booking of appointments in out of hours across Thames Valley

> Enhanced assessment of cases recommended to attend Emergency Departments or receive a 60 minute response by a clinician

> Improved support for self-care where clinically appropriate

> Improved transfer of patient information and access to care records

A SCAS spokesman added: “Patients can be confident that, with one call to 111, the care they are directed to will meet their physical, mental and social care needs in a timely and clinically safe manner.

“Health and social care professionals can be confident that the 111 integrated urgent care service has assessed and managed patients appropriately, placing them with the service which can most effectively meet their needs.”

This new service is provided by South Central Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SCAS) in collaboration with Berkshire, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trusts.