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Lewes UTC celebrates first birthday

Date: 24 May 2021 to 31 December 2098

More than 7,000 patients have been treated at the new Lewes Urgent Treatment Centre in its first year.

The unit opened at Lewes Victoria Hospital at the height of the pandemic in 2020, on the site of the former minor injury unit and is the result of close partnership working between Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust, the local clinical commissioning group (CCG), and GPs from Foundry Healthcare Lewes, with invaluable support and funding from The Friends of Lewes Victoria Hospital.

It brings together a range of multi-skilled professionals, including the GPs from The Foundry who also moved to the site.

As the team this week celebrate the service’s first birthday, they have paid tribute to how colleagues have coped with the demands of opening and operating during a pandemic.

Karen Hawes, Service Manager for Lewes Urgent Treatment Centre, said: “The past year has seen true collaborative working between acute and primary care, ensuring the people of Lewes and beyond receive timely, local, community care.”

Karen added: “We have seen more than 7,200 patients in the last year and this number has been steadily increasing. We are now gearing up for the better weather and the gradual easing of lockdown and expect this to increase the number of people we see.

“We had to think on our feet and make many alterations in the first few weeks of opening due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“These included establishing the service as a ‘cold’ site, restricting entry to asymptomatic patients only. We also had to re-arrange our waiting room in line with social distancing.

“Our biggest change has been to assess a lot of our patients over the telephone or video. This can often save the patient a trip to the unit and we can organise prescriptions to be picked up at pharmacies.”

Patients who call NHS 111 for help and advice are also sometimes directed to Lewes UTC if that is the best option for them and the team see more than 40 patients a weekend who are referred to them from NHS 111.

The centre is open 8am-8pm, seven days a week, and is equipped to diagnose and deal with common ailments such as strains and sprains, eye problems, suspected broken limbs, abdominal pain, minor head injuries, or cuts that need stitches.

Dr Elizabeth Gill, Chief Medical Officer, Sussex Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), said: “On behalf of the Sussex CCGs I would like to offer my sincere thanks to everyone who worked so hard to ensure that Lewes Urgent Treatment Centre opened on schedule, and the amazing staff that have now been serving and supporting local people at this fantastic new facility for a year. This would have been quite an achievement in ‘normal’ times but to have done all this during a global pandemic is remarkable. The Urgent Treatment Centre at Lewes Victoria Hospital has further improved the quality of health care for the local community and I’m sure it will do so for many years to come.”

Jenny Clark, Chair of the Friends of the Lewes Victoria Hospital, said: “The Friends are pleased to have been able to help fund the Urgent Treatment Centre from money generously given by the local community. It is a significant additional resource for Lewes people providing a valuable service in a pleasant and effective environment.”

The Urgent Treatment Centre is located at Lewes Victoria Hospital, Nevill Road, Lewes, East Sussex, BN7 1PE. You can learn more about it on the UTC's service information page.