NEWS COMMENT: Drop-in centre in north of city would ease pressure on QA

All the figures which paint a picture of a year in the life of the A&E department at the general hospital serving the Portsmouth area make fascinating reading.

But one stands out above all others.

It is that in the category called ‘where the patient went after A&E’.

At the top of that list we learn that a startling 47,100 patients were discharged with no follow-up treatment needed.

As our examination of the data from NHS Digital shows on pages 10 and 11, almost 147,000 people attended the A&E department at Queen Alexandra Hospital between April 2016 and March this year.

So those 47,100 patients represent almost a third of the total who crossed or were wheeled over the threshold of the Cosham hospital... and later sent on their way after treatment.

On page 7 today is a report, again, about ambulances stacking up outside that A&E department.

The South Central Ambulance Service says in August it lost 551 hours to delays at QA, double the number last year.

Surely the two issues are inextricably linked?

Let’s be charitable and assume those 47,100 people did not consider themselves time-wasters, but genuinely believed they needed hospital treatment or, perhaps more pertinently, had nowhere else to go.

It’s all very well suggesting they drop in to the minor injuries and illness unit at St Mary’s, but that’s in the south of the city.

What about the tens of thousands who live in the north of Portsmouth or those who come in from Gosport, Fareham, Havant, Waterlooville and farther afield?

Is it not time a similar unit, perhaps open 24/7, was built in the north of the city – on the QA site even – so those not in dire need could be directed straight there, relieving nursing staff and ambulance crews of a little of their stress?