People who turn up at Hull A&E with minor conditions are to be redirected to other services this winter to ease the pressure on emergency services.
Hull University Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust is introducing “patient streaming” at the front door of its Emergency Department to ensure people in need of emergency care are prioritised.
Every person attending the department will be met by a senior nurse known as a “nurse navigator” within 15 minutes who will determine the most appropriate place for them to be treated. That could include services away from the Emergency Department, such as another service based at the hospital or in the community.
Anyone using the Emergency Department for minor illnesses and injuries because they cannot get an appointment with their GP will be re-directed to an appropriate alternative service in the community.
People will be given information on where to get mental health support or help with addictions while others will be given future appointments to see their own GPs if their conditions are not serious.
Chief Operating Officer Teresa Cope said: “We’ve been asking people for years to keep our Emergency Department for ‘serious stuff’. However, around 46 per cent of people who come to our Emergency Department could have gone to other services.
“If people come to the Emergency Department with minor illnesses or injuries, they will now be re-directed into a appropriate services able to meet their clinical needs. We also continue to ask patients to consider using alternative services in the first instance.
“Winter is here and we need to take these steps to ensure our staff and services are protected for the people who need us most.”
The new patient streaming service is part of the trust’s plan to improve urgent and emergency care as well as supporting the winter plan when hospital admissions increase because of seasonal illnesses such as flu and respiratory conditions or major trauma linked to accidents caused by bad weather.
An additional 22 bed ward opened at the end of October and 12 extra assessment beds will also be introduced at Hull Royal Infirmary before Christmas to help cope with the additional demand over winter.
Staff known as “progress checkers” will also be based in the Emergency Department to work with other hospital teams to gather results or book tests to ensure patients can be discharged home or admitted onto a ward sooner.
Teresa Cope said: “There has been significant planning and work undertaken by the hospital and by wider Health and Care partners to plan for winter.
“A number of schemes are now coming to fruition which will help the hospital to manage through this busy period and ensure patients receive appropriate and timely care.”