Plan to cut demand on hospital A&E

PATIENTS turning up at accident and emergency could be sent to their own GP surgery if their condition is not urgent.

Under radical changes to healthcare provision, NHS chiefs want to cut the number of patients treated in the district’s A&E departments.

Bosses at Mid Yorkshire Hospitals Trust plan to reduce overall demand on A&E by eight per cent and see more patients treated at GP surgeries.

In a move planned to come into force in the next few weeks, medics in A&E will be able to send patients who turn up with non-urgent conditions to an appointment the same day at their GP surgery.

Stephen Eames, Mid Yorkshire’s interim chief executive, said: “We plan to minimise demand on hospitals for those activities and procedures than can be done perfectly well in different settings.”

Pontefract and Castleford MP Yvette Cooper has campaigned for the A&E department at Pontefract Hospital to be reopened 24-hours-a-day after it was temporarily closed overnight last year.

The temporary closure has sparked concerns that A&E department at Pinderfields Hospital in Wakefield may be struggling to treat too many patients.

Pontefract A&E is set to reopen overnight in September, when it will be run by a team of GPs and nurses.

Ms Cooper said: “Lots of patients could benefit by seeing a GP out of hours, getting a fast appointment or a home visit rather than going to A&E.

“But that won’t be enough to take the pressure off Pinderfields. The trust also need to get Pontefract A&E reopened as soon as possible.”

To help treat more patients outside hospital, GP surgeries are extending their opening hours. Under a new telephone scheme called Doctor First, patients will also be able to speak directly to a GP before booking an appointment to help avoid unnecessary visits to A&E.

District health staff are also being better trained to treat patients with long-term conditions like diabetes and arthritis so they do not have to go to hospital for treatment.