THE Countess of Chester Hospital has introduced a service in the emergency department which it hopes will reduce the number of patients attending with non-urgent conditions.
The emergency department has introduced a clinical streaming service which consists of two senior nurses assessing patients before they book in at reception.
When patients arrive they are now required to take a numbered ticket from a machine and when their number is called out they will be seen by a nurse in a separate designated assessment area.
If the clinical streaming team feels it is not necessary for the patient to be seen, they may be advised to seek advice elsewhere, such as their GP, a pharmacist or other community providers. However, if the patient requires further assessment by the emergency department, or the urgent care unit, they will be asked to book in as normal.
The clinical streaming service – similar to the traditional triage system – is being introduced as a three-month pilot scheme to see if it has an impact on the number of emergency- type attendances. This is a joint service provided by the Countess and Partners4Health – an NHS body which provides community-based services from the Countess’s A&E department.
Jane Evans, emergency assessment manager at the Countess, said: “This year we have seen an 8% increase in the number of patients attending A&E and it is extremely difficult for the department to manage that additional patient flow.
“One of the biggest challenges we face is the number of patients attending inappropriately. The emergency department is there for life-threatening accidents or emergencies but we are seeing a rapid increase in the number of patients who simply do not need to be there.
“For example, patients should not be attending A&E with symptoms relating to norovirus (diarrhoea and vomiting). They should stay at home and contact their GP by phone should the symptoms persist.”
She added: “Conditions such as norovirus spread through the community very quickly, which is why we are particularly keen at this time of year to advise patients not to come to the emergency department inappropriately.
“We don’t like turning patients away and patients should rest assured that if they need to be treated at the emergency department or urgent care unit they will be.”