Major review of key casualty services in Sheffield planned in wake of ‘unprecedented demand’ on A&E

Northern General Hospital A&E department, Sheffield.
Northern General Hospital A&E department, Sheffield.
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A major review of all casualty services in Sheffield has been ordered in the wake of ‘unprecedented demand’ on city A&E services this winter.

The wide-ranging review of all urgent care services in the city - including A&E units, the walk-in centre on Broad Lane and GP out-of-hours services - is being launched by Sheffield Clinical Commissioning Group.

It comes as health bosses claimed over one in ten patients who go to A&E in Sheffield don’t need to be treated there.

According to the CCG, a recent audit found around 11 per cent of adults and 40 per cent of children who use urgent care services in Sheffield could actually be treated by GPs.

The report said: “In terms of local context, whilst the number of presentations of more serious A&E attendances has remained relatively static, there is evidence that the demand for urgent care treatment for more minor ailments and concerns continues to increase.

“In Sheffield, it is clear that a proportion of patients will always simply ‘turn up’ at A&E for care.

“Recent audits suggest that a sizeable proportion of these patients could be managed more effectively in General Practice and previously there have been several attempts to integrate the skills of a GP into A&E.

“These did not succeed for a number of reasons but a consistent theme has been insufficient volumes of patients to ensure long-term sustainability.”

The review intends to examine how this issue can be tackled, looking at the potential of extending GP opening hours into evenings and weekends, as well as the possibility of different services sharing the same buildings in future.

It is intended that a consultation period will start in May, with recommendations for the future organisation of city health services being put forward by October.

The report said: “Considering the level of public interest in urgent care services there is a need to ensure clear support from the public and clinicians for the proposals that will come from this review.”

Current services that will be included in the review include the city’s adults and children’s A&E units, Royal Hallamshire Hospital’s minor injuries unit and eye casualty unit and the GP out-of-hours collaborative.

The review will also discuss the future of the NHS walk-in centre on Broad Lane.

The centre’s current contract had previously been due to end in March 2016 but is being extended until September 30, 2016 so there is more time to develop recommendations on its future.

The review is being carried out in response to NHS England’s five-year plan for the future of the health service, which includes proposals to simplify urgent and emergency care services.

Dr StJohn Livesey, GP clinical lead for urgent care at NHS Sheffield CCG said, “Along with the rest of the country, Sheffield has seen an unprecedented demand and pressure on urgent care services during the recent winter months. In order to make sure that future urgent care services deliver the best possible care for patients, and are sustainable going forward, the CCG has proposed a citywide urgent care services review.

“The review will assure the CCG that urgent care services are resilient and meet the needs of local people, particularly if faced with this type of pressure again. Most importantly the review will look at improving patient experience, and in particular supporting the Sheffield healthcare system to deliver the 95 per cent pledge for patients to be seen within four hours at A&E, leading to changes that will help achieve this.

“In undertaking this review we will engage with and listen to Sheffield patients, our clinicians and the public, as we know this is critically important to ensure that future services work better for local people.”