The Urgent Treatment Centre (UTC) at Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Gateshead and Blaydon Primary Care Centre offers services for a wide range of minor injuries including suspected broken limbs, minor scalds and burns and minor head injuries. The UTC team is made up of a total of around 40 people including senior and junior nurse practitioners, triage nurses and healthcare assistants.
Bethany Patten is a junior nurse practitioner within the UTC team. She began her career in 2018 working between the Emergency Assessment Unit and Short Stay Unit. In 2020, she moved to South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust working as a staff nurse on their Same Day Emergency Care Unit. After a year, she moved back to Gateshead Health to take up a position as a triage nurse here at the Urgent Treatment Centre. Since then, she has completed her clinical skills course and has recently been promoted to junior nurse practitioner.
What do you do on a daily basis at the UTC?
“Day to day we see a range of minor injuries and illnesses. Patients first book in at the front desk where they are triaged and, if appropriate, are given either a nurse practitioner or general practitioner appointment. We work alongside our UTC GPs Monday to Friday, and after hours we work with GATDOC, a service that provides GP support for urgent needs when surgeries are otherwise closed for the day.
The nurse practitioners work on a ledger of 21 appointments each day, although the senior members often push themselves to see more than this in the interest of the patients and to support junior colleagues. As a junior nurse practitioner, I’m gaining experience and knowledge every day of different illnesses and injuries in both children and adults. We refer to various specialities including surgical and orthopaedics. Often we have complex fractures that involve manipulation and orthopaedic involvement so I work closely alongside these colleagues daily.
One of the aims of the UTC, as part of the emergency care centre, is to take away some of the minor illnesses and injuries footfall from A&E so they can focus on life or limb-threatening illnesses and injuries. We are an essential part of the wider emergency team.”
What do you enjoy most about working in the UTC?
“I enjoy working independently although it has been challenging adjusting to this new role. The UTC has given me lots of opportunities to progress both personally and professionally. They have given me learning opportunities through both external/internal courses, allowed me to take continued professional development (CPD) courses and have provided me with continuous teaching/support whilst in the role. My next challenge is the minor injuries course which I am looking forward to completing and seeing how this enhances my knowledge for my role.
The team at UTC is often what gets us through the tough busy days. Sometimes a quick Costa trip for a coffee to give us a boost is all that’s needed! We try to keep morale high in these stressful times as part of the NHS. We always have regular events planned like days out, walking trips, or theatre groups. This is inclusive to all members of the team and means we have formed friendships alongside our professional relationships. It really is a team like no other!”