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imageHealthwatch Enfield has written to Enfield Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) asking them to keep the urgent care centre (UCC) at Chase Farm Hospital open until 10pm and not to proceed with the proposal to close an hour earlier. The watchdog body has also uncovered confusion about the last time that patients can arrive and the roles of the UCC.

Healthwatch made its intervention after consulting service users and carrying out further research into how the centre is used. Members of the public who were provided feedback were overwhelmingly opposed to closing earlier.

Healthwatch's research also revealed that one reason for very low levels of attendance between 9pm and 10pm is confusion about whether 10pm is the latest time for arriving at the centre or the cut-off time after which people still waiting will not be seen. In her letter to the CCG, Healthwatch Enfield chief executive Patricia Mecinska requests that the hospital "maintain opening times from 8:00am to 10:00pm so that residents can attend up to 10:00pm and be seen". However, there is conflicting information on the Royal Free website about this question.  A press release issued on 17th January this year states that "From Monday 21 January, the urgent care centre (UCC) will be open from 8am to 10pm (last patient booked in at 9pm) 7 days a week", while the UCC page on the website simply states that "The UCC is open from 8am-10pm every day". It may be that the change was announced but never actually implemented.

Healthwatch also found that people are unclear about how exactly an urgent care centre differs from an accident and emergency department, ie what conditions it deals with and what treatments and procedures it can provide.

Commenting on Healthwatch's findings, Patricia Mecinska said

Local people have told us that the opening hours of the Urgent Care Centre at Chase Farm should not be reduced. There is more work that needs to be done to provide more information about the Centre to local communities. We hope that Enfield CCG will take note of local people’s views when making its decision. We will be advocating for this through all available forums and meetings.

Chase Farm Hospital urgent care centre

The urgent care centre (UCC) was set up in 2013 to replace the hospital's accident and emergency (A&E) department. The changes, which also included the creation of an older people's assessment unit and a paediatric unit, were made as part of the highly controversial "Barnet, Enfield & Haringey Clinical Strategy". The paediatric unit closed in 2017, the older people's unit remains open daily from 9am to 7pm. Since its inception, the UCC has seen more than 180,000 patients.

The following information is taken from the Royal Free website:

The urgent care centre (UCC) at Chase Farm Hospital is there if you, or your child, needs medical treatment or advice for a minor illness or injury that isn’t life-threatening.

This could include:

  • sprains, strains, and broken bones
  • minor burns and scalds
  • minor head and eye injuries
  • bites and stings
  • minor illnesses

You don’t need to have an appointment – just turn up and you’ll be seen by the appropriate healthcare professional. The UCC is open from 8am-10pm every day. The UCC is located on the ground floor of the hospital near to the multi-storey car park.

We strive to see, treat and discharge 80% of patients from the UCC within two hours of arrival. At times of high demand, we may not be able to manage this and ask for your understanding and patience. We will always treat patients in the order of clinical need.

There is no emergency department at Chase Farm Hospital. If you require treatment that cannot be managed at the UCC, you will be transferred to the emergency department at either Barnet Hospital or the Royal Free Hospital.

For further advice on where to seek urgent medical advice search “emergency and urgent care” on the NHS Choices website.


Healthwatch Enfield press release

Information about the UCC on the hospital website

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