We welcome the news that the trial of placing GPs into the casualty department of Queen Alexandra Hospital is to be extended.
Admittedly, the details of the scheme that have been released are a touch scanty so far, but the aim is certainly a good one worth pushing – as anything that eases the pressure on A&E is a step in the right direction.
The travails of the A&E department are, sadly, well documented. Few people criticise the care they receive – and many not only praise it but are astonished that the staff can work so efficiently and good-naturedly under such pressure – but it is clear from the queues and the numbers turning up that the department cannot cope as it is. The regular delays for ambulances waiting to discharge their patients is also testament to this.
There are many projects afoot to help A&E. The publicity given to alternative sources of care, such as pharmacies and walk-in centres helps, but the plan to look at how the care is configured is also to be welcomed.
If this trial is helping those who are brought to A&E but who may need primary care from a doctor, not emergency care in casualty, then not only is time being freed up in A&E, but also, more importantly, the most appropriate care and treatment is being given to those who need it.
It’s clear that the NHS needs to adapt to changing circumstances. Just as we would applaud any move towards doctors’ surgeries opening later into the evenings and at weekends, so we hail this A&E GP trial too.
Like any area of the public sector, the NHS is facing serious financial pressures, but it also needs to look at how it can run its services – and the same way that things have always been done is not necessarily the same way that things always should be done.
Anyone who has experienced a long wait at the Cosham hospital will know A&E needs as much help as it can.
If this pilot can bring down waiting times, and weed out some people who would be better cared-for elsewhere, so much the better. If it doesn’t, the managers still deserve great credit for trying.