COMMENT: New centre could help to take pressure off casualty

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How pleasing it is to be able to report good news about the A&E department at Queen Alexandra Hospital on today’s front page.

We make no apology for being critical in the past of how casualty has been struggling to cope with demand and how waiting times for those requiring assessment and treatment have remained worryingly long.

As we report on page seven, in 2015 figures from the NHS Trust revealed the hospital’s A&E department was the worst in Britain.

Portsmouth NHS Hospitals Trust, which runs the QA, saw, treated or discharged 71.6 per cent of patients in October that year.

Nearly two years on, the statistics remain damning and the hospital’s treatment rate is way below the national target of 95 per cent.

So against that background, we welcome news that a new urgent care centre is to be created at the QA in a bid to help tackle problems in A&E.

Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust has bid for and been awarded a grant of £855,000 by the Department for Health to build the facility within or next to A&E.

The aim is to recruit more GPs for the centre, who can see patients who have turned up at A&E but don’t actually need hospital treatment.

Part of the deal is that the centre has to be functioning by October, so it could play an important part in easing pressure on casualty during winter.

Of course, the new centre will only be successful if enough GPs can be found to staff it. With national shortages being reported, that remains a concern.

But we wish the new centre well. If it can address the problem of A&E teams spending too much of their time dealing with minor medical issues, then they can use their skills to treat those who need them the most.