No quick fix to A&E pressures, but it is being addressed locally

JPMT. NHS Health meeting at the Hurstpierpoint Village Centre. Dr Minesh Patel
JPMT. NHS Health meeting at the Hurstpierpoint Village Centre. Dr Minesh Patel

It has been widely reported this week that A&E departments right across the country are busier than ever before.

Today, both the College of Emergency Medicine and Foundation Trust Network have published their own reports on the current challenges facing the front doors to the NHS.

Locally, GPs leading the NHS in Horsham and Mid Sussex are working to build a stable network of NHS care provided within our communities to alleviate the pressure at the front door of A&E.

Understanding the needs of local people and joint working between the NHS and social services as well as the voluntary sector is at the heart of this work, says NHS Horsham and Mid Sussex Clinical Commissioning Group.

Dr Minesh Patel, clinical lead for the Group, said: “There are underlying challenges to the pressure felt in our A&E departments and the CCG is focussing on looking after our patients better in the local community through primary care services including doing more in GP Surgeries and at community hospitals and in people’s homes.

“For the first time, health and social care services are being designed around the needs of the individual and local community in which they live.”

“Like other areas in the UK, Horsham and Mid Sussex has an increasing number of older people in need of complex health and social care at a time of growing pressure on public finances and many of these are residents in care homes. Improving care for the frail elderly by redesigning services is a priority for us, as is identifying and supporting people with dementia and their carers.

“Our A&E services are also seeing higher numbers of patients drinking alcohol at unsafe levels and there is increasing concern about people who are drinking at home at levels that puts their health at risk.”

The CCG is already working on a number of projects to support our A&E departments and better care for our patients in the right place, by the right person and at the right time including a Rapid Access Medical Unit at the Princess Royal Hospital to enable early assessments and treatment for people who are frail or have complex needs and improving out of hours services.

Dr Patel added: “There is no quick fix to the challenges our A&E departments are facing, but by getting it right for our local population we think we can really make a difference.

“Talking more about our 24-hour pharmacies staffed by highly skilled pharmacists, out of hours GPs, minor injuries unit and urgent care treatment centres and helping people to understand where to go and when is key to this. We can work with the public to make it easier to access the right service and make informed choices about the alternatives to A&E.

“Often by accessing the NHS another route, they will get more appropriate care and faster.

“One of the best assets we have going forward is that doctors and nurses, who know their patients best, now have the ability to make decisions on local NHS care so our local community gets the care they really need, while addressing the needs of the most vulnerable and dependant in the community.”