Southport and Formby District General Hospital is changing how it supports people who make their own way to A&E from Monday.
The change is part of a local NHS pilot scheme to help more patients be seen in the right place at the right time and is already in use at the Royal Liverpool, Aintree and Wirral’s Arrowe Park hospitals.
It builds on a national campaign which encourages people whose care needs are not an emergency – but who still need urgent care – to contact NHS 111 first so they can be seen at the best place for them.
From Monday 13 December, Southport hospital will be trialling this approach at certain times when patients attending A&E will be met by a care navigator.
They will use the same system as NHS111, supporting patients with an assessment based on their symptoms and personal information to advise on the most appropriate place for care. This could be A&E but maybe a local dentist or pharmacy, a nearby urgent care centre, or specialist service such as Sefton Sexual Health.
Care navigators will only support patients who make their own way to A&E. There will be no change for patients arriving by ambulance, or who have been referred by a GP or directed to A&E by NHS111.
Dr Kate Clark, Executive Medical Director at Southport and Ormskirk Hospital NHS Trust, said:
“As a doctor working in A&E for many years, I know the importance of seeing people with a medical emergency as quickly as possible. A&E teams everywhere are busier than ever and we want all our patients to have the best experience possible of the NHS.
“Care navigators will support patients finding the best care for them. For patients who don’t need emergency care, this maybe an NHS service outside hospital, potentially reducing waits in hospital for those who do.”
Anyone who wants to remain in A&E will be able to do so but may also face a long wait.
Dr Clark added:
“In an emergency, you should always call 999. Where you need urgent care or medical advice, or are not sure where to go, contact NHS111 first. They will direct you to the most appropriate service. There is also lots of advice available on the NHS website for self-care options.”