Major changes to patient care at Doncaster A&E could see a dramatic drop in waiting times due to a more streamlined service.
Set to be implemented in October, the introduction of a ‘front door’ clinically supported service is expected to ensure patients are seen by the most appropriate person.
But concern has been raised that the proposal will lead to a huge rise in people attending hospital, rather than seeing their GP.
Chris Stainforth, chief officer with the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) gave a presentation to Doncaster Council’s health and adult social care overview and scrutiny panel yesterday outlining the plans.
He explained: “The urgent care current system is fragile both nationally and locally. We are looking to maintain stability rather than risk major disruption.
“The emergency/urgent system is 60 per cent of the work that Doncaster and Bassetlaw Hospitals NHS Trust do, and A&E is under a huge amount of pressure, doctors and nurses are working very hard and we are struggling with some staffing issues involved in that. We are very keen to look at stabilising this.
“We are looking at a system that is fit for future purpose and including in the proposal is a new ‘front door’ A&E service.
“This is a signposting service, if we can signpost people correctly at A&E we will get the best outcomes.”
The proposal would see patients clinically assessed when they attend the A&E department and the decision made whether they need a consultant, nurse, paramedic or GP. Currently all patients, whatever their ailment, wait together.
Mr Stainforth added that is was planned to split A&E into two services - an urgent care centre with the addition of GPs, and an emergency centre which will not deal with minor ailments, all on the DRI site.
Coun John Sheppard said: “I’ve got a little concern about the provision of non emergency care at the hospital.
“I apppreciate there is a problem where people are attending hospital when they should be seeing their GPS. This scheme is encouraging these people to come there, so won’t the demand increase?”
Mr Stainforth answered: “We wouldn’t be able to manage the system if we made an assumption of patients changing their habits.
“We are being pragmatic about what’s happening. We’re not expecting an increased amnount, it is based around the current activity of major and minor incidents.
“If we get the front door bit right it will be an educational tool for the patients so they know they are going to get the care they need when they need it.”
Coun Sheppard said: “All it seems is you’re offering people a carrot to turn up at the hospital.”
Coun Alan Jones said: “I’ve been in the hospital late at night and there are young children under stress, with drunken, drug addicts and criminals. Is there any way we can get rid of the nasty element?”
“The urgent care centre will have a separate waiting area and it’s seen as one of the major advantages,” Mr Stainforth added. “This will be a major improvement, supporting the young and the vulnerable away from the Saturday night people.”