Essex: GPs could offer phone and video consultations and surgeries could open until 8pm to help reduce reliance on A&E
- Credit: PA
A major shake-up of urgent health care in north Essex aims to slash hospital A&E visits by 10% by the end of 2015.
The North East Essex Clinical Commissioning Group (NEECCG) has published a strategy for a widespread shake-up of urgent care in the area.
Ideas include GPs doing consultations done over the phone or by video call and surgery hours extended to run from 8am to 8pm each day and at weekends.
Seven day working would be embraced across the system allowing more people to be discharged from hospital and given the appropriate level of care at weekends.
At Colchester’s A&E department the town’s Walk-in Centre could be moved in front of it to act as a triage and treatment centre for less seriously ill patients, with the minor injury units at Clacton and Harwich hospitals fulfilling the same role.
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An Emergency Care Practitioner car, where a health worker could be sent to urgent cases which do not require an ambulance, could also be trialed.
Overall the plan aims to cut the number of unplanned hospital admissions by 3.5% by the end of next year, with a further annual reduction of 1% over the next three years. It will also reduce A&E attendances by 10% within the same period, with a further annual reduction of 2% in the following three years.
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Commissioners also hope all patients requesting a same-day consultation, whether with a GP or at hospital, get one, and that by 2020 80% of patients will have electronic health records.
Between April 2013 and March 2014 there were 66,008 visits to Colchester General Hospital’s A&E department, of which 28% were admitted for further treatment. Only 10,800 of these were for major injuries.
The attendance figure is projected to rise to almost 80,000 by 2018-19 on its current trend. There were 60,229 attendances in 2011-12.
A spokesman for the NEECCG said: “We have to make sure that all patients, not least those who need urgent care for life-threatening illness or injury, are treated promptly and effectively.
“We know that to be successful the whole care ‘system’ locally, not just the hospital but GPs, walk-in services, community nurses, mental health crisis teams, the ambulance, the hospice, social care and others must work smoothly and be coordinated and balanced. That’s why all these improvements must be brought together in one plan.
“A good recent example of how the system can be improved might be the Community Rapid Assessment Service for Tendring, based at Clacton and Harwich Hospitals, but which mainly provides Advanced Nurse Practitioners to help usually frail older patients to stay at home and avoid the stress and risk of admissions to Colchester Hospital.
“We are hoping that local patients and other residents will let us have the benefit of their experiences and insights soon when this strategy for urgent care is subject to consultation with the public.”
The strategy will go out to consultation before being implemented in whole or in part.