NHS 'needs new urgent care system'

 

The NHS in England must design a simpler system if it is to relieve pressure on emergency care, it has been reported.

Many patients are confused about who to turn to when they need urgent medical help and too often visit accident and emergency units, according to a review seen by the BBC.

The review - led by NHS England medical director Sir Bruce Keogh - looked at all kinds of urgent and emergency care, including walk-in centres, telephone advice lines and minor injury centres.

Sir Bruce was asked to carry out the review by the NHS Commissioning Board.

It concluded that there is pressure throughout the services and that a much simpler 24/7 system is needed, the BBC reported.

"We know that A&E is the pinch point of the health and care system and that staff are working very hard to provide the care they know the public need," Prof Keith Willett, who is chairing the review's steering group, told the BBC:

"To relieve the pressure and design a system that is sustainable and fit to meet future challenges, we need as many patients, doctors, nurses and NHS colleagues as possible to get involved."

The report also found there is an increasing reliance on telephone advice, but that many patients "lack confidence" in the service and often seek a second opinion anyway.

In May, leading doctors warned that the "problematic" introduction of the new 111 advice line left patients not knowing where to turn to for help.

Earlier this month the Health Secretary announced that NHS bosses are creating a "vulnerable older people's plan" to help alleviate the stress on accident and emergency wards.

The "huge pressures" in A&E reflect other problems in the health service because accident and emergency is the barometer for the whole system, Jeremy Hunt said.

He told delegates at the NHS Confederation conference in Liverpool that while immediate actions have been taken, officials must look at the underlying causes of the strains.

He said officials have been told that they have a year to develop and put into place a plan of action to help the "heaviest users of the NHS", which will take in advice from Sir Bruce's review.

PA

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