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GPs could be brought in to ease pressure on hospital emergency units
GPs could be brought in to work alongside hospital medics in a major shake-up of the way emergency care is delivered.
Health commissioners say too many people are still turning up at A&E unnecessarily, putting the system under huge pressure and causing over-crowded wards and long delays for treatment.
Simon Trickett, chief operating officer at South Worcestershire Clinical Commissioning Group (SWCCG) believes as many as 50 per cent of people who turn up at A&E could find more appropriate treatment elsewhere.
Despite numerous initiatives achieving varying degrees of success, he said commissioners were still trying to find the “golden bullet” to reduce the strain on A&E.
And he believes the answer may be a new Urgent Care Centre that SWCCG would like to see built on site at the Worcestershire Royal Hospital in Worcester.
This would see patients assessed on arrival with those requiring acute medical attention being sent through to A&E but those who do not need to see an emergency doctor going to the GP-led urgent care centre instead.
Although there is no firm proposal at the moment, Mr Trickett said it was something that could be in place as soon as next year.
If an ongoing review of acute hospital services in Worcestershire decides on the option of enhanced, centralised services at Worcester, he said that would provide the perfect opportunity.
“In an ideal world this is exactly what we would want to do,” he said. “There are a number of barriers, not least physical space, but we know that if there are to be changes to A&E provision at Worcester then we will need to do something to increase capacity.”
Dr Nikki Burger, a partner at St John’s House Surgery and SWCCG’s urgent care lead, said a GP-led urgent care centre could be an ideal fit for Worcester.
“These sorts of systems have been cropping up more and more and we have been looking at how they work elsewhere,” she said. “I don’t think it is something that would work everywhere, for example in very rural areas where GP surgeries are likely much closer than A&Es, but in Worcestershire it would be ideal.”
Cost implications have not yet been fully established and much will depend on the results of the ongoing acute hospitals review, but Mr Trickett said the investment needed would likely come from the CCG as a “commissioner driven intention”.
He will look to work up a joint business case with Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust and would want any new development to be “win-win for everyone”.
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