Cromwell Hospital launches urgent healthcare services in London

The services are 'breaking new ground' for private hospitals in the UK

Cromwell Hospital in London. Photo: Bupa
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A top private hospital in London is advertising two new services for non-life-threatening and acute care.

The Cromwell Hospital opened a new clinic for urgent, walk-in appointments on Monday, following the launch of its acute admissions unit in May, a round-the-clock service for immediate referrals for unwell patients.

It comes as more people are paying out of pocket for private healthcare in the UK.

Dr Farhan Zaidi, a consultant in emergency medicine at the hospital described how the new Urgent Care Centre provided “rapid access to treatment for injuries and illnesses”.

The hospital said its campaign, which involves advertising on public transport and social media was UK-based. An advertisement on the London underground describes the service as "private urgent care, without the wait".

Urgent care is one level down from accident and emergency services, treating all illnesses apart from life-threatening emergencies such as heart attacks, strokes, severe head injuries, major trauma, poisonings or overdoses.

The new centre will be open from 8am to 8pm, every day of the year.

Patients can be seen for a range of ailments, including chest infections, some gynaecological problems, urinary tract infections, fractures, sprains and burns.

Patients arriving at the centre will first be seen by a nurse trained in emergency medicine who will run tests and take details of the condition. A consultant will then conduct a full assessment, including any X-rays, ultrasounds and blood tests if needed, and refer patients to a specialist.

Patients eligible for treatment at the centre will pay an initial consultant’s fee of £150.

Those with life-threatening illnesses must call 999 or go to the nearest NHS emergency department immediately.

The new service follows the launch of Cromwell’s Acute Admissions Unit in May, a 24-hour service allowing doctors to refer acutely unwell patients for immediate care at the hospital, and includes a private ambulance service.

The two services offer patients “immediate access to secondary care,” said Dr Sarah Frankton, Chief Medical Officer at the Cromwell Hospital.

“We know that medical emergencies can be incredibly stressful and having rapid access to consultants, diagnostics and the latest technology and equipment will provide high-quality care and peace of mind for our patients and their families.”

It is the sixth urgent care centre to be opened by a private hospital in London.

HCA Healthcare, a US-based group, runs four urgent care centres at their London private hospitals. The group launched its own Acute Admissions Service in January, promising hospital admission within two hours and a private ambulance service.

Waiting times for Accident and Emergency services at National Health Service hospitals in England reached record levels in January this year, with more patients than ever before waiting more than 12 hours to be admitted into hospital.

The January waiting time figures coincided with strike action from 999 call handlers and ambulance staff.

The latest NHS data for A&E in England found that around 74.6 per cent of patients were seen within the limit of 4 hours in April.

David Hare, CEO of the Independent Healthcare Providers Network said the growth of urgent care centres in London was “breaking new ground”.

“Until now, urgent and emergency care in the UK has almost exclusively been delivered by the NHS, so these moves further demonstrate how private healthcare is broadening, as well as deepening its offer,” he told The National.

“It will be interesting to see what role these new facilities will play, and whether there is scope for similar developments elsewhere – particularly in the major cities, where demand is likely to be highest.”

Hospitals are not required to submit data from their urgent care centres, with the number of patients treated at these units unknown.

Updated: June 05, 2023, 3:48 PM