A&E braces itself for ‘difficult winter’ ahead

Ambulances outside the A&E unit at QA Hospital
Ambulances outside the A&E unit at QA Hospital

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ADDING more GPs into Queen Alexandra Hospital’s A&E department cannot be ruled out, in a bid to ease pressure.

As reported in The News back in July, health bosses are piloting a scheme to have doctors in the emergency department, to tackle the number of people coming in.

A report from the Portsmouth Clinical Commissioning Group, which buys in healthcare, said between 2012-13, there were 132,118 attendances – around 300 per day.

As a result Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust (PHT), which runs QA, is struggling to meet its four-hour target of seeing patients arriving in casualty.

The front-door model, which has been renamed as the urgent care centre, started earlier this month.

One GP is in the A&E department from Friday through to Monday, at various times depending on demand.

Rick Strang, in charge of emergency care at PHT, said: ‘The urgent care centre is going well.

‘It is to deal with people coming in, who need primary care rather than emergency care.

‘On average a GP is seeing 25 people in an eight hour shift.

‘It is making a difference because it is taking some pressure off A&E.

‘We see about 275 people a day, and at the weekends that can go up to 300-plus.

‘This is targeting people who are coming in and don’t need to be.

‘They can be told to go see their own GP, and be reminded of other care such as pharmacies and walk-in centres.

‘It’s going to be a difficult winter, so we may get more GPs in and extend the number of days.’

But the message is still to avoid A&E – unless it is an emergency.

Dr Jim Hogan, lead for the Portsmouth CCG, said: ‘The ED is not a place for people to come if they have a sore throat, headache, hangover or advice.

‘That’s why we have the NHS 111 service, which is working very well in this region.

‘Anyone who needs advice or is unsure about who to turn to for help within the NHS should call 111 – and they should certainly do so before heading to QA, unless they have an emergency condition or have had an accident.’