Breaking down the barriers in care
On October 21st, 2014 In General
I was interested to learn about a national report by the National Audit Office calling for health services to better ‘integrate urgent care’. My first thought was ‘but we’re already doing that in North East Lincolnshire and we have been doing for years!’
Luckily for our patients, we didn’t need a national report to tell us to integrate urgent care. This is something we recognised years ago in North East Lincolnshire, and when the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) was established in 2014 one of the first projects we started on aimed to better join up services between GPs and A&E.
When patients feel poorly they need health care and want someone to help with their problem; there shouldn’t be a barrier between primary care (GP services) and secondary care (hospital services).
The spilt is meaningless: health care settings need the right skill mix of health professionals to respond to patients’ needs, wherever they come for help.
Over the last 24 months everyone who has visited A&E at the Diana Princess of Wales Hospital will have been assessed by a local GP in the first instance. If that person needs urgent care, but isn’t considered an emergency, we make sure they get the care they need from a GP, rather than an A&E consultant who is best placed to focus on genuine accident and emergency cases.
This works well in so many ways: patients don’t sit around in A&E for hours waiting to be assessed, A&E staff are more focussed on treating genuine emergency patients and NHS organisations work better together.
Since developing this service we have been approached by other health groups in the area to see how they can learn from our way of working, and Scunthorpe A&E is also considering this approach. Here’s hoping other areas across the country will work to break down the barriers between hospital and GP services too.
Dr Rakesh Pathak
Lead for Urgent Care