PATIENTS will be filtered out of A&E if they do not need to be there under a new scheme being trialled at the Alexandra Hospital.
Redditch and Bromsgrove Clinical Commissioning Group are creating a 24/7 Primary Care Centre within the Woodrow Drive building to deal with the 15 to 30 per cent of people who turn up at the emergency department when they could be dealt with more appropriately elsewhere.
Under the system, due to go live in September, people who turn up at A&E will be registered and then assessed by a clinical navigator who will be a GP or an Advanced Nurse Practitioneer who is primary care trained. If it is decided the problem is a primary care issue then they will be sent to the Primary Care Centre where appropriate treatment will be given. The centre will be able to book appointments with GPs and access community care services. In some instances those with minor issues will be given advice on how they can self-care and then sent home.
Ambulance crews will still be able to access A&E directly but paramedics will be offered the option of going stratight to the Primary Care Centre if it is felt it is most appropriate for the patient they are dealing with.
The centre will be run by Care UK, which currently runs the area’s out of hours GP service, and will be trialled for a year.
It is hoped the system will ease the pressure on the Alex’s A&E department by reducing unnecessary admissions and attendances, reducing waiting times and ensuring patients are seen by the right clinician at the right time. The idea is being driven by a recognition from doctors the emergency and urgent care system has become too complex for patients to navigate themselves.
Dr Marion Radcliffe, urgent care lead for Redditch and Bromsgrove CCG, said: “The front door of A&E has become the default access point to a large part of the NHS. Its availability 24/7 creates demand and that demand is overwhelming at times. While we’re waiting for re-organisation it’s what we can do to help that front door.
“20 years ago that confused patient would probably have called their own GP because they were the 24/7 default point of access, A&E is where that confused patient turns up nowadays.”
Dr Chris Hetherington, clinical director for countywide emergency medicine for Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust and based at the Alex, said the project wasn’t about extra workload.
“We’re going to redirect that primary care work to a more appropriate place allowing the emergency department teams to see the sickest patients with more resource.”