Patients in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland are set to benefit from improved levels of care at Leicester Accident and Emergency from Wednesday with the introduction of a new emergency reception point.
Improvements aimed at reducing waiting times will mean that there will be one entrance for patients using both Adults’ A&E and the Urgent Care Centre – next door to the current A&E entrance.
From 8am on Wednesday 17 July adult patients who arrive on foot will be triaged by a nurse to make sure they receive their treatment in the most appropriate place for their condition. This could be A&E, their own GP, a pharmacist or the Urgent Care Centre, which operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
If the patient’s condition is deemed appropriate to be seen by their GP, they will have an appointment made for them at their own practice within 24 hours. If they are not registered with a GP, they will be registered with a practice close to where they live.
For too many patients, A&E waiting times are currently much longer than they should be and the new system, being piloted, aims to make sure that patients arrive at the right location for their condition and therefore significantly improve the patient experience. There will be extra staff within the new emergency reception point to support this.
New signs will direct people to the new reception and the doors to the existing A&E will be staffed to make sure that patients are clear about where they should be.
There will be no change to the entry points for children that require treatment. Parents should continue to take their children to either the Urgent Care Centre entrance or Children’s A&E as appropriate.
Dr Nick Pullman, Chair of West Leicestershire CCG speaking on behalf of the three clinical commissioning groups representing Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland said:
“We understand how anxious patients have been when they have had to wait for longer than necessary in A&E. We’ve put this system in place so that patients will receive the quality of care they deserve and are entitled to.”
John Adler, chief executive of Leicester’s Hospitals said: "Our current emergency department (ED) is too small. It was designed for about 115,000 patients a year and we are seeing more like 160,000. So, we’re developing a scheme to tackle this by investing in a new ED which is likely to cost about £40m.
“In the meantime, we know that there has never been more choice for patients and this can be confusing. Instead of expecting patients to decide what is ‘urgent’ and what is an ‘emergency’, we are making it easier by directing all walk-in patients through one new single front door located in the Urgent Care Centre.
“By creating a ‘single front door’, something that already works well in other NHS trusts, it will allow us to guide patients through to the most appropriate care. This new approach will release pressure in our Emergency Department allowing our staff to deal with medical emergencies. All patients should see an improvement in their experience.”
The move was agreed in June by the Urgent Care Board for Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland, chaired by NHS England’s David Sharpe and has received wide spread support by NHS partner agencies of the four-hour wait target and impact of long waiting times on patients’ experience. It is one of a number of initiatives that are being introduced to support achievement of the four-hour wait target.
The new scheme will be operational from 8am on Wednesday 17 July.