A&E for those who really need it

As many as two in every three people who go to Broomfield Hospital A&E do not need to be there – leading to longer waits for patients needing urgent care.

Before the start of this year, about 220 patients went through A&E every 24 hours – but by spring 2016 numbers were frequently far higher. On one day in April, an unprecedented 314 people came to A&E – and last month (September), daily figures often exceeded that. On 26 September 2016, for example, there were 334 patients in A&E.

The higher numbers are largely made up of people who would get the right care from a GP, pharmacist or even through self-care. Up to two thirds of Broomfield’s current A&E patients do not have a serious or life-threatening condition – but the long waits in A&E are not putting them off walking in with minor ailments.

This is making it harder for our doctors and nurses to cope. The situation has become so serious that immediate action is needed.

From next week, patients going to A&E with conditions that are not serious or life-threatening may be redirected to other services.

Mid Essex Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is working with Mid Essex Hospital Services NHS Trust (MEHT) and other healthcare partners to direct patients to more appropriate care.

Dr Bob Ghosh, Medical Director at MEHT, said: “Patient safety remains the priority – no one will be ‘turned away’ until a senior nurse has seen them and advised on what they need to do. But people with a minor condition should not expect to be seen in A&E. We want the public to help us ease this pressure and really think first about what care they need – help us keep A&E for those who need it.”

Dr Caroline Dollery, Chair of Mid Essex CCG, said: “This new initiative is being supported by health and care professionals across our patch. To help people get the right care, we are working with our GP practices to make sure appointments are available.

“People often say it’s too difficult to get a GP appointment – but when the CCG last audited them, more than 700 appointments at GP practices across mid Essex went unused on one day alone.”

“On top of this, we know that some of our practices have between 20 and 30 appointments a day that get wasted because people don’t turn up and they don’t cancel.

“We really need people to think wisely about how they use our health and care services so that we can provide the best and most appropriate care.”

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