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I visited the walk in centre after falling off my bike and recieving a blow to the head and a broken elbow. The Australian/New zealander nurse took an unusual nasty attitude for no reason, perhaps she was tired! She was sarcastic and impatient to a silly degree and at one point I nearly exploded but I was in a shocked and painful state. She even made stupid comments to my wife (in front of me!) I hope that made her feel better..my wife actually thought you are an ignorant , rude person. I pass this place on my way to work and still feel angry.
I have to say I am in two minds about the walk in service. On the whole I have always found them to be helpful and generally quick, on the other, apart from advising and telling you what is wrong, they are limited it what they can do for you - for example they can't write prescriptions. My local walk in centre is in the high street, and since I work five minutes around the corner, in theory it's very handy. My doctor is also nearby but I struggle to get an appointment easily, unless I beg and plead with the dragon lady receptionist. As a result, if I just have something quite short and quick, the walk in is the preferable option, especially as their opening hours are longer and more convenient. I have been on two separate occasions, and have also been with someone else when they went. What does it involve? The local walk in centre houses a variety of nurses, doctors, emergency dentists and blood technicians, meaning you need to make it very clear to the receptionist what help you need. You are given a form to fill out which asks for your personal information (name, address, age etc) and health information. They also ask for your regular doctor's address. Once you have filled the form out and given it back to the receptionist, it's a matter of waiting. It's worth mentioning at this point that due to the different services provided, other people may come in after you but be seen before you. Can they help? In general - yes. The first time I went, I was going abroad and had popped in hoping to get vaccinated. Unfortunately that wasn't something that the walk in centre can provide, but the nurse I spoke to was lovely and helpful and told me exactly which ones I would need, and answered my questions about them. We had a discussion about Malaria tablets as well. The second time I went I had a swollen bite on my ankle. Again they couldn't actually do anything about it but the doctor advised me what over the counter medicine I could take. When should you use it? The walk in centres are a good tie in with the NHS direct phoneline - if you are unsure of what treatment you need, if you don't know if you need a doctor or not, then they are the place to go. Some people may feel uncomfortable or may struggle with the phone line, so this is a face to face alternative. Pros: * Can be quicker than a doctors appointment * Can save you an appointment if your problem is minor and easily treatable * If you don't know whether to go to the doctors or not, they can act as advisors * No appointment necessary * Better opening hours than most surgeries. Cons: * You may need to see a doctor if you need a prescription * During busy periods (weekends for example) they can be very busy and you may be waiting for a while
I was very impressed with the service in the walk in centre in Bristol so I thought I'd share my experience. It wasn't something I immediately thought of doing but if you're unable to get to your doctor this is a brilliant alternative. It was entirely down to my own stupidity that I ended up needing this service which made me all the more surprised that it was so good - I suppose they didn't know but I almost felt like I deserved to suffer for longer! I ended up with an infected toe just down the side of the toenail and whatever I put on it I couldn't get it to clear up. I tried just about every kind of antiseptic I could think of and nothing worked. This happened while I was at my parents' house and as I am still registered with the local doctor there it would have been very easy to make an appointment and get it sorted out. In fact my mother told me to do just that and I didn't listen. I thought I'd just keep piling antiseptic on and it would go away eventually. It didn't. It was such a little thing that I thought I could deal with it myself but it got to the stage where I was limping around in my mother's shoes - her feet are a size bigger than mine so this was less painful! Of course by the time I had decided to admit defeat and I needed antibiotics I was back at home miles away from my doctor (another case of stupidity not registering with a new doctor when I moved) so I didn't know what to do. I was due to go on holiday in a few days and couldn't face ruining that by limping around the whole time and there was also the possibility of the infection entering my bloodstream which would have been rather inconvenient so I needed to get antibiotics fast. This was quite distressing as I faced a very long drive to my doctor - inconvenient as well as painful with a septic foot. Luckily for me a friend of mine suggested trying an nhs walk in centre so I decided it was worth a go. Having done my research on the internet and tried everything I could think of I was certain that antibiotics were the only way forward but I didn't know if they would be able to prescribe them at the walk in centre and I really didn't fancy the wait if I was going to come home empty handed. I found the staff on the reception desk very friendly and helpful - they were able to advise me that the nurse would be able to give me antibiotics if necessary. They didn't even mind too much that I couldn't remember who my doctor was. They were also able to give me a very accurate waiting time which I was impressed with because there were quite a few people waiting but they seemed to get people in and out very quickly and I found I didn't have to wait longer than they'd said. The wait was around an hour and a half which isn't exactly fun but for something that you just walk in to without an appointment you have to expect to wait. They didn't let you leave in this time - I relieved to hear the receptionist telling one man who said he'd be back in half an hour that if he wanted to keep his place in the queue he had to stay there. I would have been very jealous if he'd been allowed to leave as I was in too much pain to do so and just had to sit there getting quite bored. I would strongly advise taking a book! I forgot and ended up watching a chat show on the tv they had provided with the sound off which didn't really keep me entertained. The strange thing was the sound would mysteriously come back on for the adverts. I also had a bit of a chat with a woman who had tried to sit down on what she thought was a chair and it turned out to be a rubbish bin and was in some pain from ending up on the floor. This really wasn't enough to entertain me for an hour and a half but with a good book I'd have been fine! I assume the waiting time varies a lot but I didn't think it was too bad on this occasion. Apart from the boredom the waiting room was fairly comfortable and it was nice to see a sign on the door asking people to stay away if they had swine flu so I wasn't too scared about leaving with something worse than what I went in with. I did try not to sit near anyone who was coughing though. When I saw the nurse she was very nice and seemed to know what she was doing which is always good. She had a good look at it and gave me a new dressing while asking loads of questions. She only gave me the antibiotics when she was satisfied that I'd tried all the other options which was quite reassuring - much as I wanted them it was nice to know they wanted to try other options first. She even took my temperature to make sure it hadn't got into my blood. She gave me loads of advice on how to make it go away quickly and sent me away with a week long course of antibiotics. I had anticipated having to limp to a pharmacy after being given a prescription but was pleasantly surprised that the nurse just took them from a locked cupboard and handed them over. My only complaint here is that she gave me the highest dose which I didn't realise until I got home and as I'm really tiny I don't think this was necessary and it did make me feel quite strange. I ended up only taking half of the tablets after a while which I know is not a good idea with antibiotics but I felt I should have been on a much lower dose. I didn't complete the course and the infection did clear up. I could be wrong and she did seem to know what she was doing but I do feel that half the dose would have been better although I don't see this as a flaw with the walk in centre as my doctor may well have done the same thing and there may have been a good reason for it. So overall I was very pleased with the service - it was friendly, professional and efficient and it cured my manky toe! I would definitely recommend this if you have a minor problem and you're unable to get to your doctor.
Two falls on my way home from work in the snow and ice on Thursday 7th January left me with just a couple of bruises. On my way to work the following morning I tried to be extra careful but suddenly slipped onto my back while crossing an icy road. As I got up I was relieved that my back felt fine, but noticed quite a bit of pain in my left wrist, which must have hit the road. Unfortunately I am left-handed, and I was unable to write or put any pressure on my hand while at work. I was able to see a nurse at my GP's surgery later that afternoon, and she urged me to go for an x-ray as soon as possible. The choice was between accident and emergency at Queen Alexandra Hospital or the walk-in treatment centre at St Mary's Hospital (both in Portsmouth). The latter is nearer to my home, and I thought waiting times might not be as long as those at accident and emergency, so I decided to go to St Mary's. The pain was not unbearable, so rightly or wrongly, I waited until Saturday morning. The centre is, however, open until 10pm every day. The taxi was able to stop right in front of the entrance to the walk-in centre - there was just a little snow to be negotiated on the pavement. Entry is through two sets of double automatic doors providing easy access for the disabled. There is a separate entrance and waiting area for children just a few yards away. The adults' waiting area has seating for about twenty people and was quite busy when we arrived at 11.25am, but that was partly because all the patients were accompanied by at least one other person. At the reception desk I was immediately asked about the reason for my visit and given a form to fill in with a pen and a clipboard. Fortunately my son had come with me and was able to fill the form in on my behalf - I just had to attempt a signature with my right hand. We were of course able to sit down while filling it in. The information required included name, date of birth, address, GP's surgery, reason for visit, medical history (in brief), current medication and allergies. I believe the receptionist will assist anyone whose injuries prevent them from filling in the form. Once completed, we handed the form in at reception and were asked to sit and wait. After a few minutes a member of staff came to ask which wrist I had injured and to take a look at it. She said she could not authorise an x-ray for me herself and I would have to go through to triage, for which the waiting time was about forty-five minutes. That was a little longer than I had hoped for but still surely an improvement on accident and emergency waiting times. In actual fact it was only about fifteen minutes before a nursing practitioner called me through. She led me to one of a number of cubicles where there was a bed, a computer on a small desk, three chairs, equipment for measuring blood pressure, a small washbasin with soap and paper towels and two rubbish bins. After sitting down she checked one or two details from my form on the computer and made one or two notes by hand in a notebook. She asked me who I lived with and what my job was. It was a relaxed, friendly interview during which she let on that she had got hold of the only available small heater for her cubicle. She then examined my hand and wrist, which were considerably swollen by that time. It was a thorough examination but she didn't ask me which areas hurt when she applied pressure. She then said she would arrange for an x-ray of the scaphoid bone, which entailed signing another form, and said that she would see me again afterwards. After apologising for the fact that the x-ray department was very busy because so many people had sustained injuries in the ice and snow, she sent me back to the waiting area. It was probably about 12.30pm when I was called by a radiographer. She took four x-rays of my wrist in various positions and then accompanied me back to the waiting area. New patients had been trickling in every so often, and injuries to the left wrist seemed to be the favourite for some reason. One or two had an arm in a sling, one had a bandage on her forehead, and an elderly gentleman in a wheelchair appeared to have broken his leg. After another short wait the nursing practitioner called me back. She studied my x-rays on her computer screen for a while but seemed uncertain. She asked me if I had been injured in that area before, but I hadn't. She explained that her screen wasn't clear and left me for a few minutes while she went to look at the x-rays on a better screen. Apparently there was only one clear screen, so several of her colleagues were queuing up to use it. When she returned she showed me the area she was particularly looking at on her screen. She explained that if the scaphoid bone is broken, it may not show up on an x-ray until two weeks after the accident. Since I did not definitely have a fracture, she fitted a splint around my wrist that almost completely restricts movement of my thumb but leaves my fingers free. It fastens easily with velcro and has to be taken off at night. She assured me that a consultant radiologist would be looking at the x-rays the following day and that I would be telephoned if the injury was considered to be more serious than it was in her estimation. The practitioner also booked an appointment for me to see the consultant on Tuesday 19th January. He only attends on Tuesdays and she did not want to leave it for a further week before the scaphoid bone was checked again. My initial treatment was complete and I was free to leave. Having tried unsuccessfully four times to ring for a taxi from my mobile, I returned to reception to ask if they could help. The receptionist was happy to oblige and eventually had more luck than me. We were glad that our original seats were still free so that we didn't have to wait for the taxi outside in the snow and icy wind. Before leaving, I noticed at reception that the waiting time for seeing a nursing practitioner was one hour - longer than when I had arrived. I do think, however, that this was a particularly busy day when an unusually large number of people were coming in with injuries sustained in the ice and snow. It may be that at other times of the year waiting times are shorter. There are disabled toilets at the centre that any visitor is free to use. The ladies' is just down the corridor, past the children's waiting area, and it has baby-changing facilities. The children's area has a corner with toys, but there are no magazines in the adults' waiting area - thankfully my son brought a book with him. There are machines from which you can buy drinks or snacks. Update: I returned on 19th January for my appointment with the consultant, which was scheduled for 11.30am. I actually arrived at 11.15am and was amazed that within five minutes a nurse came to look for me. She took me to one of the cubicles and asked me to have a seat while I waited for the consultant. He came very soon after that and gave me the news I had hoped for: I had sprained a ligament in my wrist and no bones were broken. He said that I should take the splint off for periods of time and then put it on when I felt I needed to over the next two or three weeks. He explained that it could take four to six weeks to heal completely but that if I felt something was wrong I should go to see my GP. I asked a couple of questions while he was washing his hands and then I was free to leave. Overall I would rate my experience at this walk-in centre very highly. The staff are polite, helpful and efficient, and within an hour and three quarters I went through triage, x-rays and was fitted with a splint. Had I gone to accident and emergency, I can't imagine that I would have been seen and treated so quickly. For anyone living in Portsmouth or Southsea, I would definitely recommend St Mary's treatment centre as the place to go with a minor injury. I am sure that they will also treat visitors, as the form we filled in had boxes for both temporary and permanent addresses. The walk-in centre is open every day from 8am until 10pm, and you do not need to make an appointment. St Mary's NHS Treatment Centre Milton Road Portsmouth PO3 6DW Tel. 0845 076 5551 Also posted on Ciao.
I just ranted about the NHS direct phone line, and in the same review raved about the walk-in-centres. A walk-in-centre is like a drop in medical surgery where you can wait to see a nurse without making an appointment. They are open out of doctors surgeries hours until 9pm on the evening. After getting little help from the phoneline, I decided yesterday to take my poorly 2 year old to our local Walk-in-centre. It was on our way home and only a 5 minute drive from our house so is almost as convinient as the phoneline for us. On arrival, the receptioist takes basic details of the patients name, DOB and address along with a summary of what is wrong. You are then asked to take a seat. Some times are busier than others. I have previously waited anything form 10 minutes to well over an hour to see someone. Yesterday the wait was about half an hour. When we were called, we were taken into a small but well equipt room similar to one you'd find at any doctors surgery. The nurse was very friendly and thourough. She began by taking my sons temperature which was 39.1 degrees. Next she examined his ears and his throat (with difficult due to my uncooperative toddler) and still she remained patient and kind to us all. After listening to my sons chest she gave him some nurofen to bring his temperature down. We were shown to another small room and given toys for him to play with. The nurse also asked if we could get a urine sample from our son to rule out a urine infection. After half an hour and a few quick checks on us, the nurse returned and took his temperature again (a much improved 38.2 degrees) and with advise and 2 bottles of medicine we left. The visit with the nurse put my mind at ease and made me feel much more confident at monitoring him through the night. I felt better to know that his urine, chest, throat and ears were all ok and felt that if anything serious had been wrong the nurse was so thourough she would have noticed. I actually much prefer the walk-in-center to my own doctor and will be using the service again if nessisary. I might have been lucky with the nurse my son saw but I would definately recommend this quick and efficient service.
~*THE SCENARIO*~ On Thursday evening, I had the very painful experience of falling over and landing knee cap down on a concrete sleeping policeman, (no I wasn't drunk, it was dark and I tripped!) Typical, I landed on the knee with an old skiing injury, so it's not the stronger of my two, and I grazed my knee through my jeans which wasn't very helpful at all! All weekend I've been hobbling about saying things like, "If it doesn't get better/if the swelling doesn't go down/if I still can't straighten it or put full pressure on it I'll get it looked at one Monday"...with the hope that it would all heal nicely and I could carry on as normal! So, Monday is here, and it's not any better, in fact it's worse, with a beautiful black and purple bruise and swelling, and I still can't straighten my leg... The thought of heading down to the local A&E fills me with dread. I do kind of work with the it's not an emergency, it can wait, and therefore I'm going to be stuck there for hours to be potentially told to rest it and it'll be fine, which is frustrating, for me and the staff I imagine! I've also been on the other side and rushed in as an emergency on more than a few occasions, so I really do think it's right that I'd have to wait whilst priority cases are sorted out, and I don't want to be wasting anyone's time! On the other hand I know going to my GP will result in me being told to go to A&E to get it checked, so don't really see the point in that either! Then a friend suggests I go down to the "Minor Injuries Walk in Centre" at the other local hospital. (St. Mary's in Portsmouth) For some reason, I'd not even thought about it, but it was definitely the best option! ~*ARRIVING*~ On arrival, parking was a bit of a nightmare, but only because we wanted to park near around the front of the hospital near the centre, (in hindsight I could have been dropped off and Dad have parked in the larger carpark round the back!) But luckily we found a spot fairly quickly. I was pleased to see an adult's entrance and a children's entrance...not only because when you're in pain/ill etc, screaming children are the last thing you want to hear, but also having been a child in pain/ill/waiting for scary doctors to prod you, being surrounded by sometimes impatient adults in a clinical waiting room isn't great fun either! I did get a sneaky peek at the children's areas, but I'll mention that later! ~*RECEPTION*~ A smiling lady invited me to the desk, and asked how she could help. I explained I had a knee injury, and she gave me a form, and asked me to fill it out and then bring it back to the desk, so the information could be passed on to triage. The form was fairly simple; Name, date of birth, gender, address, emergency contact, nature and cause of illness/injury, medical history, allergies, medication and a few other bits...the basics really! It was only one double sided sheet of A4 and laid out clearly and only took a few minutes. Once it was handed in, we were told to take a seat and wait to be seen by triage. ~*TRIAGE*~ The triage nurse got to me within about 5-10 minutes, which considering how busy they were was really quite impressive! I was asked if it was ok to talk there, or if I'd rather be taken to a private room...as it was only a knee injury and nothing too personal/private, I opted, like most people I saw in there, to have a quick chat in the waiting room. He had a notebook and a page with my name and brief information from my form at the top. That form saved 5 minutes worth of telling somebody else my details to write down, yippee!! He had a brief look at my knee, asked a few more questions about the symptoms I was having and pain etc, wrote a few notes and informed me that he was sorry, but that there was a two and a half hour waiting time as they were so busy. This wasn't a shock as I'd already seen it on the board clearly displayed and regularly updated behind the reception desk, and we were actually expecting it to be far longer! We decided dad would go home and I'd phone him when I knew more or needed to be picked up. ~*WAITING*~ I'd taken a book and a bottle of water with me, as I know how long those waits can be, and I'd definitely tell anyone and everyone to take something with them just in case. However, there was a couple of vending machine in the waiting area, as well as an assortment of magazines and newspapers on a table. There were also toilets, a male/female and a disabled, which was handy as it meant I didn't have to walk very far! The wait was actually shorter than I expected, being seen in around an hour and 40 minutes after seeing triage, which was a pleasant surprise as I've waited for over 6 hours to be seen in A&E before! ~*BEING SEEN*~ A doctor called my name, and I carried my bag for me to a consulting room, so I could concentrate on hobbling, which I thought was very nice! The details from my form and the triage notes were already loaded on her computer screen, and she even offered me a drink! She was a really good doctor, had a good look and prodded me in all the right places to cause pain, but hey that's what she's there for right! She didn't waste time going back over the basic information I'd already had taken, unless it was relevant to a specific question or symptom and she was efficient but thorough. Rather than heading back to the waiting room before x-rays, she left me up on the trolley and I sat and read my trolley until I was taken to and from x-ray, still on the trolley! The x-rays were really quick and they were very careful to hurt me as little as possible when moving my leg into the right places. Once wheeled back into the room, it was only a few minutes before the doctor came in and talked me through what she'd seen on the x-rays. She then got me some crutches, and an appointment card to see a consultant tomorrow morning, and found me a time that was convenient all from the one system. It was really nice to have everything dealt with by the same person instead of having to go here, there and everywhere to repeat information over and over again! She then helped me out to the waiting room, and asked if I needed someone to phone my dad to come and pick me up, I had my mobile so I didn't need them too, but it was still nice that they asked rather than assuming I was sorted! ~*THE CENTRE*~ The centre itself was clean and tidy, with a much calmer atmosphere than my local A&E, and even a bit of colour dotted around. From what I could see the children's area was brightly painted and with toys and books, and they had special children's consulting rooms which were also painted and generally more inviting than ordinary hospital rooms. I imagine the brightly painted walls provide good distraction too when things are scary or a bit painful. All the staff were easily identifiable in their blue scrubs, and the non-medical staff were clean, tidy, presentable and approachable. And staff appeared to interact well, communication was certainly very good from what I experienced. Patients were seen promptly and efficiently, more promptly than most were expecting I think, and all appeared to be treated with respect and courtesy at all times. I know I certainly was. ~*CONCLUSION*~ Overall, despite not being allowed to weight bear and having to go back tomorrow, the service I received was really very good. The NHS has such a formidable reputation, but the service I received today was second to none! Hopefully, my visit tomorrow will be just as smooth and welcoming! I'll update with anything else I can think of!
NHS Walk in centres are like a drop in doctors facility. You do not need to be registered there to use the service, and you can simply walk in, tell staff you would like an appointment, and wait to be seen. You can use the walk in centre in any town or city, it does not need to be your own, so you can go there if you are travelling about and out of your area. The walk ins are also usually open later than usual doctors, and open on weekends, so they give you the flexibility to go to the doctors out of your normal working hours. Sometimes the walk in centre has a long wait, which can be a matter of hours, which is a disadvantage, however the staff usually pre-warn you of this. You cant make your appointment and come back later though, you literally have to sit in there and wait for hours.
I cannot believe that Birmingham is the second city and the NHS are thinking of closing the NHS Walk-in centre down, without this valuable service it is back to long waits in A&E departments or a wait of perhaps 1 week or more to see a GP. What a shame, as Tony Blair has left office the Walk-in centre is about to close, What does Gordon Brown intend to do about this? I think he needs to earn his votes if he wishes to stay in power, so come on gordon show us what your worth, keep the Walk-in centre in Birmingham open.
I was scrolling through the dooyoo topic list trying to find a category where I could tell you about an incredibly useful short course I recently attended about disability awareness. Without any luck I’m afraid and as I’ve not had much success in e-mailing my suggestions, I’ve had to put that one on the back burner for now. Still as one door closes another one opens and I happened to notice ‘NHS Walk-In Centres’ as a topic which I have had some experience of and one which I have a strong opinion. My son is at university in Exeter, which as you probably know is some distance from North Wales where we live. At the start of the first semester of his second year, about this time last year, he travelled to Exeter by train to meet up with some of his friends for some pre study revelry to get the year off to a good start. We had arranged to travel down the following weekend with all the paraphernalia required to maintain a student’s existence in the twenty first century – CD player, computer, play station, bottle opener, etc. (and a couple of text books). Before he went he had been complaining of pains in his side, visited his local GP who prescribed pain killers and had tests carried out which had come back all clear. Anxious to get back to Uni, he had ‘grinned and beared it’ taken the painkillers, set off for Exeter and said he’d see the Doctor on campus if it got any worse. Whilst we were travelling down to Exeter the following weekend he phoned me on his mobile saying the pain was much worse and there were no doctors available on campus until the following week. When we arrived at Exeter he looked dreadful, very pale and obviously having a lot of painful spasms. Not sure whether to take him to hospital, one of his friends told us about the local NHS walk-in centre near the city centre. We arrived to find a small queue made up mainly of students. There was a very efficient receptionist who quickly took all the details and fast tracked us to one of the nurses, who really was superb. She asked some basic questions took a urine test and blood test and diagnosed probable kidney stones with a small possibility of appendicitis. She phoned the local hospital and explained her diagnosis. We were provided with a letter, the test results and told to go direct to the hospital, where on arrival my son was examined, x-rayed and admitted all within an hour and a half. It was, as the nurse had diagnosed, kidney stones, which were successfully treated. After a night in hospital and Sunday lunch the following morning, he was discharged with enough time to move into his new flat and attend his first lecture the following day. I have to say I was incredibly impressed with the service, both at the NHS Walk-in and the hospital. Friendly, professional and compassionate staff, and an unbelievably quick service. Walk–in Centres were launched amid great fanfare by Prime Minister Tony Blair in 1999. The clinics were seen as a way of providing faster, more convenient access to medical advice and treatment for minor ailments. Critics, which included GPs and patient groups, said at the time the clinics were a gimmick and a waste of money. My son’s experience certainly makes me feel they’ve been a success, and I’d certainly like to see one in our area. There are currently 42 which provide a free drop-in service, in pleasant rooms more akin to hotel lobbies than surgeries, to patients at busy locations in cities across England. They deal primarily with treatment for minor injuries and illnesses seven days a week. You don't need an appointment and will be seen by an experienced NHS nurse. They are a tremendous help to anyone whose modern, busy lifestyle, or practical circumstances and particular needs, make flexible and accessible services so important. They d on't replace local GP or hospital services but complement existing local services offering healthcare advice and treatment, without you having to make an appointment, take time off work or rearrange your day. The web site www.nhs.uk/localnhsservices/wicentres provides a map of where the Walk-in centers are located, alternatively you can call the NHS Direct Helpline for details of an Walk-in Centre close to you on 0845 46 47. At least this seems to be one Government initiative which has succeeded – at least from my personal point of view.
When was the last time you went to see your doctor? If you’re anything like me then it was probably a long time ago. It is very rare that I bother going to the doctors for anything these days, if I’m feeling under the weather or a bit peaky I tend to go out to the nearest chemist and fill my handbag with all kinds of over-the-counter flu remedies, cough syrups, painkillers and pick-me-ups. The reason I don’t bother with the GP anymore is because when I phone up to book an appointment the receptionist tells me there’s no slot for about a week, and by the time my appointment comes around I’ve shaken it off by myself and I’m feeling much better. Recently I discovered one of the NHS Walk-in Centres 'A new seven day service from the NHS offering healthcare advice, information and treatment - no appointment necessary'. The concept behind the project is part of the government’s initiatives to improve access to primary care services. Basically that means that they don’t take the place of the local GP or hospital services, but instead complement them. The Walk-in Centres are staffed primarily by experienced NHS nurses along with receptionists, first aid support workers (at certain centres) and necessary administration workers (at certain centres) who provide a skilled, safe and caring service. The nurses are trained on a clinical assessment computer system, which is used to identify, assess and treat as necessary. The software is known as 'decision support software' and it is used at all the Walk-in Centres. It first of all creates new visits when the receptionist inputs any necessary details. It is then picked up from the triage queue by a trained Nurse Practitioner, who goes through a set of logically structured symptom based questions. The nurse can then use these questions to eliminate or identify conditions. The system will then suggest an appropriate course of action. At all the Walk-in Centres you can receive healthcare information, advice and treatment for things like coughs and colds, minor cuts (care and dressings), skin complaints, muscle and joint injuries, stomach problems, women’s and men’s health (problems and advice). As if that wasn’t good enough at certain centres they offer additional services. It is best to check with whichever Walk-in Centre you intend to visit but for example the one based at Manchester Airport also offers blood tests, health checks, ear syringing, contraceptive advice including emergency contraception and pregnancy testing. They can even provide certain medications like antiseptic eye ointment, painkillers and anti-histamine for allergies and much more. If you aren't exempt each 'prescription' is charged at £6.20. It is also useful to know that many of the Nurse Practitioners are undertaking training to be 'Independent Prescribers', so soon they will be able to prescribe a much wider range of medication. There are over 40 Walk-in Centres throughout the nation which are flexible in the opening times and easily accessible designed especially for those who have hectic lifestyles or those whose practical circumstances or particular needs make it difficult to get an appointment with their GP at times. The majority of the Walk-in Centres are open seven days a week until 10pm in the evening. Also it comes in handy for those who don’t want to sit waiting for hours in 'Accident and Emergency'. Take Manchester Airport Walk-in Centre for example, the nurses there can generally advice as to whether its worth going to 'A & E' or not. They are able to carry out certain clinical procedures such as wound closure and trephining, as well as being able to provide things such as support bandages and wrist braces. Most of the Walk-in Centres are presented in a clinical, clean and safe environment except the one based at Manchester Airport. This Walk-in Centre in particular is very well presented with a relaxing environment, it reminded me of a hotel reception with interesting pictures on the walls, large comfy seating, background music and lots of plants. You can call the NHS Direct Helpline for details of an 'NHS Walk-in Centre' near you on 0845 46 47. Another great thing about this service is that because it is run by the NHS so it is 'free to everyone on a totally inclusive basis' (quoted from the South Manchester NHS Walk-in Centres Philosophy).
A few months ago I was walking to the shops with hubby and the kids when I tripped and fell over. I felt a complete idiot and got up really quickly and carried on walking. I could feel my left wrist was really painful, I had previously broken it so I am always conscious of it being a bit sensitive and I get pains in it, especially in the cold and damp weather. When I looked at it a purple lump had appeared and it was swelling up. I ran it under the cold tap when I got home and put a wet, cold flannel on it to try to bring out the bruising and reduce the swelling. The only painkillers in the house were paracetamol so I took some of them. I felt completely useless, as I could not use my left hand at all. I next day the swelling was worse and the bruise had come out quite a bit and it was still as painful. I went to the Accident and Emergency at Solihull Hospital expecting to be there hours, but when I got there it was quiet, unusual for a Sunday morning. At reception I booked in giving details of my injury, name and address, date of birth and my GP’s name and address. I was seen straight away by a nurse who examined my wrist and sent me for a x-ray. This was surprising quick too as there were only 2 people in front of me. I had to wait then to see a Doctor, this was the longest wait, but only about 20 minutes. The Doctor looked at my x-ray and confirmed I had not broken my wrist, but it was badly bruised. He did not recommend any form of strapping just told me to take Ibuprofen to reduce the swelling. I was in and out of Accident and Emergency within an hour. I carried on taking Ibuprofen and went to work the following day. I could not use my left hand, as it was still painful and quite stiff. The bruise was coming out all up my arm by now. I managed just about to use my computer one handed. I was still uncomfortable with my wrist so at lunchtime my friend suggested that I go to the NHS walk-in centre to see if they could strap it up for me. I work in the centre of Birmingham and the NHS walk-in centre is located in Boots on the High Street so it was easy for me to get to. As I walked towards Boots I could see the sign for the NHS walk-in centre and as I went into the store there were more signs showing were to go. It is located on the lower ground floor, there are lifts, escalators and stairs available so there is plenty of access to this level. When I went into the NHS walk-in centre it was not like going into the doctors or a hospital. The décor and furnishing reminded me more of visiting the optician. The atmosphere in there was relaxed and unhurried. It did not smell like a hospital and I felt at ease as soon as I walked it. There were two receptionists, I was asked to sit down and complete a registration card. This asked for name, address, date of birth, telephone number and GP’s name and address together with details of the reason for my visit, if this was my first visit and had I already been to hospital or my GP to seek advice. This information was entered on the computer and I was asked to go to the waiting area. There were already about four people waiting, but there was adequate seating for about 12 people. There were plenty of information leaflets about the walk-in centre to read whilst waiting to be seen. I waited about 20 minutes and then I was seen by a nurse. I explained my injury and I asked why it had not been strapped up at the hospital. I was told that they don’t usually strap these kinds of injury because it can restrict use and stiffen up more. However, having said that she did say I was lucky I hadn’t broken my wrist again and she was quite happy to put an elasticated bandage on it to make it more comfortable. I was told that the bandage must be removed every evening before I went to bed and that it could take up to six weeks to get better, but to carry on taking ibup rofen for the pain and to reduce the swelling. The elasticated bandage did make a difference as when I went back to work I was not so worried about knocking my wrist or people touching it as it had a bit of protection. Within a couple of weeks my wrist was a lot better, not so painful and I stopped wearing the bandage. The swelling had gone down but the bruising was still visible and had gone through all the colours of the rainbow. On the whole I thought the service offered by the NHS walk-in centre was a lot better than the hospital or my own GP. This is because they seemed a lot more relaxed and helpful, I did not feel hurried like I do every time I visit my GP, they had time to listen and I got answers to my questions. Since my visit to the NHS walk-in centre I have recommended it to other people. My sister wanted the flu jab as she suffers with bronchitis every year but her GP would not give it to her. She got a prescription from her GP took it to boots and went down to the NHS walk-in centre and they administered the injection for her. She was impressed because she had to wait less time than me, about 10 minutes and she did not need an appointment at her GP’s surgery and had it done on a Saturday morning, when her GP would have been closed anyway. There are over 30 NHS walk-in centres set up across England. The aim is to make a modern, accessible and convenient local NHS service. The intention is for them to be an easier way for people with a busy lifestyle or particular circumstances to seek medical help and advice, but they are not a replacement for the existing local GP or hospital service. These centres are open 7 days a week between 7.00am and 10.00pm. No appointment is required. Experienced NHS nurses carry out the assessments. It is available to anyone who can normally access NHS services. Healthcare information, advice and treatment is available at NHS walk-in centres for any of the followin g: - Coughs, colds and flu Advice on staying healthy, including health checks Tests including urine, blood glucose, cholesterol, ECG Minor cuts and wounds, including care and dressing Skin complaints, including rashes, sunburn, headlice and nappy rash Muscle and joint injuries, including strains and sprains Stomach ache, including indigestion, constipation, vomiting and diarrhoea Women’s health problems, eg thrush, menstrual advice, smear test, contraceptive advice Hay fever, bites and stings Eye care Stress management and help to stop smoking The NHS walk-in centres also provide information on other local services, local out-of-hours GP and dental services and local pharmacy services. As each centre may offer additional services it is best to check with your local centre. For more information or to find out where your nearest walk-in centre is visit www.doh.gov.uk/nhswalkincentre/index/htm