A LEADING city GP is calling for ‘everything possible’ to be done to stop A&E being people’s first choice for health care.
Dr Jim Hogan, a GP at the Lake Road Practice in Portsmouth, said waiting times for specialist appointments and clearing beds of people who are well enough to be discharged are key for improving the emergency department at Queen Alexandra Hospital in Cosham.
The NHS must do everything possible to make sure people don’t feel that A&E is the only choice open to them.Dr Jim Hogan
His comments come after latest figures from NHS England revealed Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs QA, saw, treated or discharged only 66.7 per cent of patients within the four-hour target in January. The government target is 95 per cent.
Dr Hogan, who is also chief clinical officer at Portsmouth Clinical Commissioning Group, said: ‘We know that some people still go to A&E when they would have been better off elsewhere.
‘But the NHS must do everything possible to make sure people don’t feel that A&E is the only choice open to them.’
He added some people waiting to see specialist consultants after recommendations from their GP end up in A&E because they have to wait weeks for an appointment.
‘On the whole, waiting times to see a consultant or to have an operation are far shorter than they ever were in the past,’ he said.
‘But the quicker we can give people treatment, and more we can support them to make the right choices, the less likely they are to use emergency services for more routine concerns.’
Health organisations across the Portsmouth area have been reminding people that for minor injuries and illnesses they should be using pharmacies, visiting their GP or phoning 111.
For sprains, breaks, burns or bites, they can also visit the walk-in centre at St Mary’s Hospital, in Milton.
But Dr Hogan said people with minor illnesses should see pharmacies as the first option for treatment.
He said: ‘We see lots of people with minor illnesses, who view their GP as their first port of call to make them better.
‘I understand why people do that, but actually many minor illnesses will not last for long anyway, and in those cases you are much better off going straight to a pharmacy for advice and medicine, rather than trying to book an appointment at a surgery.
‘That is easier for the patient, and better for the NHS.’