The situation is currently unclear
If your condition is not immediately life threatening, going to A&E may mean a long wait. You may also hold up more serious cases.
So where do you go? And how do you know if you’ll get good treatment?
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The local NHS is currently looking into this issue. They are considering what kind of services to provide in the future. Should we go to hospital? Should we go to our GP? These are all questions that need answering.
They say they want to know from us, members of the public, what we think.
So, what are the options? And what are the questions we should be asking?
Go to your GP
Yes, OK, but what happens when the practice shuts in the evening? Doctors don’t provide home visits like they did in the past.
Some practices have ‘flying paramedics’ who can come out and treat urgent cases. Does your GP practice provide this? Big question to ask.
This is many people’s default option. But the NHS candidly admits it is not working as it should. So the next big question is: will the phone service manned by fully trained staff, 24/7? And can you be guaranteed to get the best advice?
Call an ambulance
Ambulance paramedics are dedicated, superbly trained professionals. But look at the recent figures regarding the performance of the ambulance service. For urgent calls only 71% of calls result in an ambulance arriving within two hours.
Why is this? What is the NHS doing about this?
Go to an urgent care centre
Urgent Care Centres, sometimes known as UCCs are manned by GPs and nurses, designed to treat urgent cases.
In the Canterbury district there is one at the Kent and Canterbury, one at Estuary View, Whitstable, and one in Herne Bay. But are they open 24 hours a day?
What happens if I wake up at 2am and feel I need urgent attention? What do I do if I haven’t got a car, or family to drive me, and no bus service? If and when I get there, do they have a full set of diagnostic kit, such as X-ray machines, and ECG equipment? And do they have antibiotics and other necessary medicines on site?
And a final big question. If I already have a long-term health condition, and I find myself in the care of paramedics, or an Urgent Care Centre, can I be assured that they can have access to my patient records online, so that they can use the right treatment?
CHEK is campaigning for better healthcare in east Kent. We want to hear what you think, and we are particularly interested in hearing about your experiences, good or bad.
You can get in touch with us in complete confidence by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
You can make a donation and become a member of CHEK by visiting our website www.savethekentandcanterbury.org
Martin Vye is Vice-Chair of Concern for Health in East Kent. He is a former Lord Mayor of Canterbury and former county councillor.