Health bosses spoke of plans to open a new treatment facility in Lewes last week.
At a meeting of the Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee on Thursday (June 28), councillors heard from representatives of the High Weald Lewes Havens CCGs about plans to convert the Minor Injuries Unit at Lewes Victoria Hospital into an Urgent Treatment Centre (UTC).
While proposals are still at an early stage, the CCG representatives said the proposed centre would have more staff and be able to treat a wider range of non-emergency illnesses and injuries.
During the meeting Lewes district councillor Susan Murray asked for more details about the plans. She said: “I can see that what is provided there at the moment is probably quite a long way from what you would be expecting from a UTC.
“I also would like to know what extra services we can actually expect from a UTC and how you will advertise them so people in Lewes actually know that those facilities are readily available.”
Cllr Murray also asked about how the proposals would work alongside the new Lewes health hub, which is to be built as part of the North Street Quarter development.
Hugo Luck, associate director of delivery at the High Weal Lewes Havens CCG, said the new centre would not be duplicating the services provided by the health hub but would mean patients needing same-day care could be referred to the UTC instead.
Mr Luck said: “Probably the major difference people would notice between a MIU and a UTC is medical oversight. With a medical presence there you can treat a far greater range of minor illnesses.
“When I spoke to [this committee] last time, I said there are some patients who would be better seen to by their GP than an emergency department. [Similarly] a number of patients, who come to see their GP, could be seen by an emergency nurse practitioner, who are based at the UTC.”
Mr Luck said further details cannot yet be confirmed as the plans are still at a business case stage. But, he added, the conversion was likely to involve the redevelopment of an ‘under-utilised’ ward at Lewes Victoria Hospital into consulting rooms.
He said: “Because we’ve got the staff trained up, the medical model is agreed and the funding is in place I have every confidence that, subject to the building work being completed, we would be able to be live in December.”
Information about the services offered by the UTC is expected to be part of public awareness campaign in the future, Mr Luck said.
During the meeting councillors heard that wider work on the creating integrated UTCs in East Sussex has been delayed due to issues in finding a bidder to run the countywide NHS 111 helpline.