The NHS has reaffirmed its commitment to St Mark’s Hospital as a crucial part of current and future health services for Maidenhead and surrounding villages.
A wide variety of services is either provided at the hospital, in St Mark’s Road, or delivered by teams based at the site.
Today NHS Frimley Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) gave assurances about the importance the location has for services but also stressed a need to improve both services and facilities.
Dr Jackie McGlynn, a GP in the Royal Borough and the CCG’s Clinical Lead for Urgent and Emergency Care, said: “A lot has changed over the past 19 months and many health services are now provided or accessed in different ways than before the pandemic.
“The constraints of the site and limited waiting facilities mean it is not currently possible to provide walk-in services which could pose a Covid-19 infection risk to clinically vulnerable patients who are attending other services.
“What hasn’t changed is the presence of St Mark’s at the forefront of a lot of services for the people of Maidenhead and beyond, and we’re currently working with local partners to make the best possible use of the site for the benefit of residents during the pandemic. This includes expanding diagnostic services as part of a significant investment into local services along with pre-booked urgent care services at the site, where the outpatient department will soon be operating at full capacity.”
Outpatient clinics, community midwifery, x-ray and blood tests, community services, mental health, physiotherapy, podiatry, frailty and specialist nursing services all use the hospital site, which also has community inpatient beds.
At the height of the pandemic, the nurse-led urgent care centre was suspended in order to reduce the risk of infection to patients and staff and also to enable health services to focus resources on where they were needed most.
The suspension of the service has allowed for the provision of a number of services by appointment through local GP practices, including a home visiting service and dedicated services for people with Covid-19, as well as routine health checks to help reduce delays to care.
In addition, the CCG and GP practices have developed a new GP-led urgent care service at St Mark’s this winter, to address the difficulties some people have been experiencing in accessing urgent face-to-face appointments. Starting this week, the service will be accessible through GP practices.
When these services are fully up and running they will provide more than 800 face-to-face appointments every week – four times the capacity of the urgent care centre. GP leadership of a multidisciplinary team will provide an improved service by increasing the range of conditions able to be treated without onward referral to other services. This is part of testing potential future models, and patient feedback will be used as part of developing improved urgent care services for the future.
Walk-in services at St Mark’s, including minor injuries services, will remain suspended during the pandemic and we remain committed to keeping this situation under review.
Dr McGlynn said: “We know how much the people of Maidenhead value the existing urgent care centre, and we want to work with the local community to make sure we continue to offer high-quality, joined-up local services which provide the best care and are easy to use. Closure of the urgent care centre is not being considered. However, we do want to take advantage of a wider public engagement exercise on how services post-pandemic can best be delivered, including building on the gains of our current GP-led initiatives.
“We will be asking local people and our partners what matters most to them as part of this work, so I would ask residents to look out for opportunities to take part.
“However, for the moment we’re focused on using the services, the staff and the sites that we have to deliver the best possible care and to ensure we’re all ready for the challenges of the coming winter, as infections, hospital admissions and deaths continue to rise.”