Scheme to ease pressure on Queen Alexandra Hospital A&E could be axed

BUSY Ambulances at the A&E entrance to Queen Alexandra Hopital                                                                                (132506-1547b)        Xxx
BUSY Ambulances at the A&E entrance to Queen Alexandra Hopital (132506-1547b) Xxx

NHS organisations give advice on where to get treatment this winter

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A SCHEME aimed at stopping A&E getting clogged up with patients could be axed.

GPs have been put in the casualty department at Queen Alexandra Hospital in Cosham to see patients who are ill but not emergency cases.

It is called the Urgent Care Centre and figures show it has been a success, but the Clinical Commissioning Groups that fund it say they can’t promise it will continue.

Figures from November 2012 to August 2014 show an average of 24 patients a day are seen in the Urgent Care Centre, rising to 35 at the weekend.

Of those, 36 per cent were sent home, 36 per cent were advised to see their own doctor, and just eight per cent admitted to QA.

Around 1.4 per cent did not wait and the rest went to see another service such as a pharmacy.

QA is run by Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust, which would like to see the service expanded.

Simon Holmes, medical director for the trust, said: ‘The UCC aims to ensure the emergency department deals with the people it is most intended to help – those patients who have had an accident or have an emergency condition.

‘It’s been recognised a number of the conditions people come to A&E with could be seen and managed outside the hospital, in primary care settings.

‘Staff working in the UCC, which is well-staffed outside of normal working hours when A&E attendances are at their greatest, are able to provide advice to people who present at ED with conditions which could be treated elsewhere, therefore helping to ease the workload on the department.

‘It would be good to see this facility expand in the future to further help primary care.’

PHT has consistently failed to reach the national target of seeing, treating or discharging A&E patients within four hours 95 per cent of the time.

The urgent care centre was created in order to help ease this pressure.

The scheme is paid for by Clinical Commissioning Groups covering Fareham and Gosport, Portsmouth, and south-east Hampshire.

They say they are carrying out a review of all services and cannot confirm if the centre will remain.

Alex Berry, chief commissioning officer for the CCGs, said: ‘No decisions have been made yet over the future of the UCC. There is little doubt the centre is playing an important role. But we do not want to review the centre in isolation to the other NHS facilities in the area, such as minor injuries units and out-of-hours services.

‘We’re reviewing the way all our urgent care services are working and will keep people informed. We would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has taken part in our recent surveys which are informing our decision-making.’

The UCC is open 7.30am to 10pm every day, with a nurse on duty all the time, and a GP there from midday until 9pm.