A new initiative, developed by NHS Bolton Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), has been introduced to help relieve pressure at Bolton’s busy A&E department. Patients with minor health problems are now being redirected away from A&E and, where appropriate, offered a same day appointment at their GP practice.
A&E departments come under pressure all year round, especially during the winter months. Last winter, saw hospitals up and down the country experiencing unprecedented strain with many older patients admitted with serious and complex conditions. The aim of this new scheme, often known as ‘deflection’, is to allow Bolton’s A&E department to focus resources on those who really need to be there. The CCG has worked closely with Bolton NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the hospital, to put this new scheme in place.
All patients who arrive at A&E are assessed by a nurse to identify how quickly they need to be seen and treated. This new initiative means that between 8am and 5.30pm (excluding bank holidays) patients with minor health problems will be advised that A&E is not the best place for them. Some patients, such as those with a virus like a cold, will be advised to go home and get some rest. Patients may also be advised to visit the nearest pharmacy for expert advice and over the counter medicines. A GP appointment will be booked by hospital staff for those who need it, on the same day if necessary. As part of the Bolton Quality Contract, a £3.4m scheme from the CCG to drive improvements in GP practices, all practices in Bolton have committed to providing appointments for patients who are redirected from A&E.
Dr Barry Silvert, Clinical Director for Commissioning at the CCG, said:
“A&E is there to treat people with serious and life threatening conditions only and the doctors and nurses there are specially trained to do this important job. However, around a third of all those who go to our A&E department here in Bolton do not need to be there. NHS Bolton Clinical Commissioning Group is committed to ensuring that patients are seen by the right person, at the right place and time. This is essential if we are to improve patient safety and the quality of care.”
“I strongly advise everyone to think twice before heading to A&E this winter. Many people will be able to save themselves a trip by considering the alternatives, such as their local pharmacy or GP practice.”