Doctors look at ways to ease A&E pressure

Doctors want to ensure A&E is free to handle real emergencies like this man with chest pains  ENGANL00120130924172024
Doctors want to ensure A&E is free to handle real emergencies like this man with chest pains ENGANL00120130924172024

West Suffolk’s health experts are working together to ease unsustainable demand on hospital accident and emergency departments.

The West Suffolk Care Commissioning Group’s (CCG) two-year plan, approved on Friday, recognises that the system of West Suffolk and Ipswich Hospitals’ A&E coping with increasing numbers alone was ‘non-viable’.

West Suffolk Hospital says its A&E is currently dealing with five per cent more cases than this time last year.

In another report the CCG looks at ways of reducing the numbers of people going to A&E, including directing them to clinicians in the community and setting up urgent care hubs at West Suffolk and Ipswich Hospitals.

The report says: “It is anticipated that patients should not be in A&E solely for specialist opinion, radiological or biological investigation and that instead these should be also be provided through the urgent care hub.”

Hubs would leave A&E to deal with patients requiring resuscitation, operations, intensive or high dependency care, who were at risk of organ failure or damage or had suffered major trauma injuries.

However, a spokesman for the West Suffolk CCG said urgent care hubs were still 18 months to two years away.

A spokesman for West Suffolk CCG said: “It has to change and adapt. You want to ease the pressure on A&E with people turning up for a cut finger.

“It’s about changing the way people think.”

The hospital’s trust board last week heard that after ending 2012/13 with a £1.5 million surplus and hoping to finish 2013/14 with a £3 million surplus, it was instead heading to £4 million deficit, on expected income of £169.8 million.

Stephen Graves, chief executive at West Suffolk Hospital, said: “We are not alone and are experiencing the same unprecedented financial pressures as other acute hospitals across the region.

“It is important the whole health and social care system — and not just acute hospitals — works together more closely to address these challenges. As such, we are pleased that the CCG’s two year plan, includes a commitment to reduce emergency admissions by 15 per cent over the next five years by focusing on better integrated out-of-hospital care.

“Not only will this help ease pressure on hospital services, but will also benefit patients by ensuring they can receive care in the most appropriate setting.

“We look forward to continue working closely with the CCG and other health and social care partners.”