Following the provision by TH CIC, of a primary care service from 2017 to 2020, at the Queen Elizabeth Queen Mother Hospital A&E department, East Kent Hospitals Foundation Trust (EKHUFT) was awarded the contract for four of the East Kent Urgent Treatment Centres (UTCs). Working as part of an Alliance with three other GP service providers (Ashford Clinical Partners, IC24 and Invicta Health) and in collaboration with the Trust, TH CIC is responsible for delivering a primary care service at the QEQM Hospital, Margate. The initial mobilisation of these UTCs was delayed due to COVID-19, but since 2020, all have opened across all sites.

A GP led primary care service, with a team of 15 GPs and 5 ACPs, TH CIC works alongside the emergency nurse practitioners in minor injury, to deliver a primary care service for many of the most common ailments, illnesses and injuries that people attend A&E for – conditions that are urgent but not life threatening.

Patients suitable to be seen in the UTC are currently streamed to the Centre by a senior nurse in A&E (this will change as the UTC becomes located at the front door of A&E where the UTC will become responsible for the streaming decision making). Patients will be streamed to A&E only if their condition is such that it is not suitable for the UTC service/setting.

At William Harvey Hospital and at the Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother Hospital, the UTCs are open 24/7, aligned to the operating hours of the A&E departments. At Buckland Hospital, the UTC operates from 8am until 8pm and at the Kent and Canterbury Hospital the UTC service operates from 8am until midnight.

The opening of these UTCs will mean a wider range of services away from the emergency departments are available for people with non-life threatening conditions. We are delighted that, after months of planning, negotiating and organising, TH CIC are able to play their part in the deliver an urgent treatment service, demonstrating a common approach between all five providers, which provides excellent patient care cross East Kent.