Casualty Units 'Need Out-Of-Hours GPs'

NHS Casualty Units Need More Out-Of-Hours GPs, Senior Doctors Say

17.07.2014

Dave Grimshaw, Press Officer | 0114 274 4397
A new report from the College of Emergency Medicine has concluded that casualty units across the country need a greater supply of out-of-hours GPs.

The organisation believes that the current A&E system is putting undue pressure on doctors and nurses and could be eased through a number of relatively simple measures, reports the Telegraph.

Instead of patients having to track down out-of-hours GPs for sudden, but non-life threatening issues that need urgent attention - as is the case at present - the College of Emergency Medicine is calling for hospitals to open primary care centres where people can seek medical help.


At present, many people try and find a GP, but fail and have to attend an A&E department, causing increasing waiting times and clogging up the system for people with more pressing complaints, such as heart attacks, strokes or broken bones.

Another advantage of the proposed system is that people whose condition is worse than they thought could be immediately moved to the A&E department.

Under the current situation, many people have to travel across towns or cities to reach the casualty unit, and some elect not to bother turning up - putting their health at risk.

Dr Stephanie Smith, of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said that the proposal would assist younger people, who make up around a quarter of all admissions to A&E.

"Emergency departments are being put under increased pressure as staff are faced with growing numbers of patients who are either unable to access out-of-hours care or who see emergency departments as the 'go-to’ for all health complaints."

These views were echoed by Sir Richard Thompson, president of the Royal College of Physicians, who said that services are often stretched by the number of people attending A&E at times when fewer staff are on duty.

The NHS has affirmed its commitment to reducing A&E waiting times and believes reforms will ensure more people are seen quickly by doctors.

Expert Opinion
This report has highlighted the fact that over-stretched A&E departments could be supplemented by the creation of dedicated primary care centres. Taking these measures would ensure patients receive the best possible care, as soon as they need it, without having to attend A&E departments for non-emergencies.

"Through our work, we see numerous cases when patients have suffered as a result of not being given the correct care in a timely fashion. The only way that quality of care and patient safety can improve is if lessons can be learned from the mistakes made in the past and the NHS implements measures designed to reduce the pressure on A&E departments, which are currently dealing with a rise in patient numbers due to a lack of supply of out-of-hours GPs."
Mandy Luckman, Partner