Trial of new way to focus A&E on emergencies only

04 Jul 2016

One in three people in our local A&Es today simply do not need to be there. They do not have a life-threatening condition and they are not an emergency. We know this because a recent trial at Queen’s Hospital A&E told us exactly that. 

Many people are no longer put off by long waits in A&E and our doctors and nurses are finding it harder to cope. We need new ways of assessing and helping you to get the right care in the right place – and reduce the pressure on our busy A&Es. 

From Monday 11 to Friday 22 July, we will be trying something new at Queen’s Hospital in Romford. 

If you arrive at A&E between 8am and 8pm, but could be seen and treated elsewhere to get the care you need – you will be given advice on where to go for help. That could be from your GP, a pharmacist, our late night GPs service or even at home with your feet up for a day or two. This will mean the A&E team can focus on those who really do need their help and expertise to deal with very serious and life threatening illness or injury. That’s what an A&E is really for. 

There’s no need for anyone to worry: no-one will be ‘turned away’ until they’ve been checked over by a senior doctor and given advice on what they need to do. 

Extra appointments will be available in our GP hubs during the trial to support patients redirected from Queen’s who need to see a GP urgently. 

This two-week trial will help us see what people do when they can’t simply walk in to A&E and wait to be seen. It will allow us to see what this means for our GPs and other health and care services. We can then make a decision about what is best for patients and what it means for health services across Barking and Dagenham, Havering and Redbridge.

Your views shaping our improvements to urgent and emergency care

The two-week trial at Queen’s Hospital is not the only way we are getting insight into people’s use of urgent and emergency care services – in March 2016 we did the biggest piece of market research on the topic ever carried out in our area. 

We talked to more than 4,000 people who live in Barking and Dagenham, Havering and Redbridge, because we wanted to know more about people’s understanding and awareness of local UEC services, and what drives the choices they make when they need urgent care. 

The study has now been published and can be found on the Document page of this website. Key findings include:

  • Local people are very aware of alternative services, but default to A&E due to confusion about choices
  • Those who are given professional healthcare advice will tend to follow it
  • A&E is seen as a reliable, same-day service for urgent care needs and long waits are not a deterrent. People are prepared to wait as they believe they will be seen and treated – even though they understand it’s not always the appropriate place to go
  • People are more than twice as likely to use their GP than go to A&E
  • GPs are the most commonly used service (72%) followed by pharmacy/chemist (69%) – with A&E third most commonly used at 31%
  • Of those attending A&E
    • 39% sought no advice before attending A&E
    • 37% had seen their GP with the same issue
    • 26% had been to A&E before with same issue

The research study was co-designed by our three local Healthwatch organisations and is already shaping our ambitious programme of change for UEC services in our area. It was commissioned using funding provided through the national Vanguard programme

This research builds on engagement work undertaken in summer 2015. We continue to listen to local people and take their feedback and experiences on board to help us transform UEC (urgent and emergency care) services across Barking and Dagenham, Havering and Redbridge.

Read the summary of the research report and supporting documents.