WIGANERS could be turned away from A&E and treated elsewhere in a bid to ease pressure on the beleaguered unit.
As new research reveals too many people are attending the department despite being offered a same-day appointment with their GP, local health chiefs have stressed no-one will be left without treatment but they may be referred elsewhere.
No one will be left without treatment, but in some cases this will be provided at a more appropriate location and time rather than at an emergency departmentDr Tim Dalton
The latest survey showed that many patients are reluctant to accept a wait of as little as three hours to see their family doctor if they think their needs are urgent - even when their symptoms have been present for several days.
The joint report by the Royal College of Emergency Medicine (RCEM) and the Patients Association highlighted that, although most are aware there are alternatives to going to A&E, “the A&E brand is particularly strong”.
Substantial numbers also go because they are advised to do so by other healthcare providers, leading experts to suggest the NHS not only needs to ensure that patients are fully informed of services such as out-of-hours GPs, walk-in centres and the NHS 111 phone service, but must also make sure that these services have sufficient capacity and are available when required.
It also warned that in a third of cases, patients had already received care from other healthcare providers for the same episode of illness, demonstrating a lack of unplanned follow-up provision.
The report recommends locating other out-of-hours services at A&E departments to make it easier for patients to attend them.
Wigan’s Clinical Commissioning Group and Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust recently announced a joint initiative to reduce unnecessary pressure on A&E.
Dr Tim Dalton, Chair of NHS Wigan Borough Clinical Commissioning Group said:
“It is well known that a significant number of patients attend A&E inappropriately (from 15 to 40 per cent of attendances in various studies) which can have a major impact on consistently providing quality emergency care.
“This is why we are introducing new systems that will refer some patients who arrive at A&E back to other NHS services in a clinically safe and appropriate way.
“No one will be left without treatment, but in some cases this will be provided at a more appropriate location and time rather than at an emergency department.
“We will monitor this scheme to make sure that it is helping to reduce pressure on A&E at the same time as maintaining high standards of care”.
Dr Umesh Prabhu, Acting Deputy Chief Executive and Medical Director at Wrightington Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust said: “Where it is clinically appropriate and safe, some patients will be deflected from the A&E department to a place and time where their condition can be managed optimally.
“When an inappropriate patient is identified upon presentation in A&E, a suitably qualified clinician will explain to them the reasons for them being referred to other services such as their GP; dentists and district nurses.”