Brighton hospital closes Urgent Care Centre

Posted On 12 Aug 2012 at 7:53 pm

The Urgent Care Centre at the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton has been closed.

The centre closed last Sunday (5 August) after health chiefs decided to pilot a new method of tackling the growing number of patients turning up at Accident and Emergency (A&E).

Many of them do not need emergency care but are going to A&E rather than seeing their GP or a pharmacist.

Now Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs the Royal Sussex, has posted a consultant and emergency nurse practitioner (ENP) to triage arrivals.

Those needing emergency care will be seen in A&E while those who do not need emergency care will be given advice about where to find suitable treatment.

Nikki Luffingham, the trust’s chief operating officer, said: “We are providing a consultant and an ENP at the front door between the hours of 11am and 7pm for six days a week – Monday to Saturday – and that covers all the peak times.

“The patients come in and are triaged at the point of entry as they always have been.”

She said that those who do not need emergency care were likely to be advised to

  • contact their GP
  • see a pharmacist or
  • go to the walk-in centre in Queen’s Road, just outside Brighton Station

About 10 to 15 patients a day are currently being redirected since the change.

Previously patients at the Urgent Care Centre were seen by one of the team of emergency nurse practitioners and GPs.

The big team has been replaced with the hospital consultant and an ENP as one of a package of measures drawn up by the trust and other NHS organisations.

They are trying to reduce the rising number of patients using the expensive A&E facilities at the Royal Sussex, the Royal Alexandra Children’s Hospital and the Sussex Eye Hospital.

The total number turning up is currently about 350 a day although the numbers soar at times.

And health chiefs hope that by redirecting those who do not need A&E they can reduce those numbers and improve waiting times and treatment for those who genuinely need emergency care.

The aim is to ensure patients are treated by the right person in the right place at the right time while saving money.

The trust is working with Brighton and Hove City Council social services staff – and those from the county councils – to ensure the more timely discharge of more patients too.

Paramedics working for South East Coast Ambulance Service are also being asked to consider whether so many patients need to come to hospital.

And Sussex Partnerships NHS Foundation Trust is being asked to play its part in helping to reduce emergency admissions among mental health patients.

The Brighton and Hove Clinical Commissioning Group – newly created by the coalition government’s health reforms – has been considering the role played by GPs and nursing support.

Working with the primary care trust – now part of NHS Sussex – it is also encouraging pharmacists to broaden their role.

Nikki Luffingham said: “It’s up to us to only admit the patients that need to be admitted.”

Among others, they are likely to continue to include people who have

  • a life-threatening injury or illness
  • a heart attack
  • traumatic head, neck or back pain or injuries
  • heavy bleeding
  • sudden shortness of breath
  • lost consciousness


  1. Roger jensen Reply

    Disgraceful – and the walk-in-centre is operated by that shambles Tory donating Care (UK) Ltd. Now it makes sense.

  2. Valerie Paynter, Reply

    In practice, the consultant will be unavailable and the nurse practitioner, not being a trained doctor, will take the heat. Inevitably, this will put lives at risk.

    This is a tourist,visitor,foreign and university students-from-elsewhere town and none of those people will be plugged into a GP here. Nor will the drunks and drug users piling into A&E from the clubs be able to access a GP in the middle of the night or be in a fit state to make an onward journey to Queens Road on foot (no buses).

    In fact noboby can access a GP, either at night or on weekends. And to expect everyone who might want A&E to find their way to Queen’s Road (24/7?)if they are unwell and without a car is risky.

    As for ambulance staff, paramedics or not, I can only say that some years ago when I called an ambulance because of an anaphylactic reaction to one of my transplant drugs that made my tongue swell up hugely so I flubbed and lisped when I tried to speak, the attendant did not think there was anything wrong with me and I had to argue my need. At A&E the doctors certainly knew they had to sort it and that the drug that turned on me had to be replaced with an alternative.

    I’ve never known there to be any kind of urgent care centre at the RSCH, only A&E. People will be confused – what is the difference? The difference seems to be that the urgent care centre is expected to be a filter diverting people from getting care at A&E. They should call a spade a spade.

  3. Valerie Paynter, Reply

    Another A&E memory: A really severe attack of Meniere’s that the A&E consultant insisted on treating with vallium and at a level that is unsafe for me… Incorrect treatment and it left me like a ragdoll and unable to recover fast enough to suit him. I thought he was some beginner houseman…no. A consultant. A&E is iffy enough already without making it more so.

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