Birmingham & Black Country

NEC: Plan to treat Birmingham and Solihull outpatients

Image caption The NEC, a leisure venue perhaps best known as the host of dogs show Crufts, is playing a new part in health plans

Some outpatients across Birmingham and Solihull are set to be treated at the NEC instead of their usual hospitals.

It comes under health bosses' plans to work through a backlog of appointments, caused by the coronavirus pandemic, and more easily allow social distancing.

While the NEC has already played a part during the pandemic with a nightingale hospital, it is not where the migrating outpatients will be treated.

They will instead attend a "health campus" at the south side of the site.

The plan is set to run from Monday and involves a raft of services under the University Hospitals Birmingham (UHB) NHS Foundation Trust. It runs Solihull, Birmingham Heartlands and the Queen Elizabeth Hospitals, along with Sutton Coldfield's Good Hope.

The NEC is in Solihull borough and sits on the border with Birmingham.

Between Monday and the end of July, bosses hope clinics at the leisure venue will see up to 150 patients per day, covering 18 services including ultrasound diagnostics and anticoagulation. UHB will also run an appointment-only, drive-through phlebotomy service.

Staff will move with their clinics, says UHB.

Image copyright NHS Nightingale Birmingham
Image caption The outpatients will not be seen at the NEC's nightingale hospital which "remains on standby to provide extra inpatient capacity"

Parking is free at the NEC campus which "repurposes" a pre-existing facility set up by Birmingham and Solihull Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).

The CCG says for Solihull patients, the campus offers a solution to accessing urgent primary care that can no longer be delivered at Solihull Hospital, which is a designated "clean site".

The CCG says while people can still access their own GP as usual, the campus allows "drive-through, pre-booked GP urgent care for almost half of Solihull's population".

None of the provisions are connected to the NEC's nightingale hospital, which, a UHB spokesperson says, "remains on standby to provide extra inpatient capacity for hospitals across the Midlands should it be needed".

The trust says the campus affords a larger waiting area which in turn means medics can have more face-to-face appointments while still observing safety measures.

"Repurposing part of this facility will enable the trust to treat patients who we would otherwise not be able to see immediately on our hospital sites due to restricted clinics to accommodate social distancing and reduce footfall," a spokesperson said.

"The initiative will support the trust in working through the backlog of patients whose appointments were cancelled during the peak of the pandemic."

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