Thousands of homes are to be sent mail shots urging people to stay away from Hull Royal Infirmary’s A&E unless they have a genuine medical emergency.
Hull University Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust will target thousands of homes as part of its Serious Stuff campaign to urge the public to use alternative services most appropriate to their needs.
“Patient streaming” was recently introduced by the trust’s Emergency Department (ED) to re-direct people to the most appropriate service if they come to Hull Royal with anything other than serious or life-threatening illnesses or injuries.
Mailshots listing NHS services such as Urgent Treatment Centre at Bransholme and the GP walk-in service at Wilberforce Health Centre will be sent to homes with HU3 to HU9 postcodes after an audit showed people living in those areas were more likely to head to ED with less serious or minor conditions.
Emergency Consultant Dr Biju Cherian said: “We are appealing to the public to help us by only coming to the Emergency Department when they are seriously ill or injured.
“We know people often come here because they don’t know where else to go so these leaflets will give them the information they need before they leave home.
“This means they can save time by going to the correct place first time around instead of coming here, only to be re-directed elsewhere as part of our new steaming system.”
Every person attending Hull’s ED is now met by a senior nurse known as a “nurse navigator” within 15 minutes to determine the most appropriate place for them to be treated.
Anyone using ED for minor illnesses and injuries because they cannot get an appointment with their GP will be re-directed to an appropriate alternative service in the community. People will be given information on where to get mental health support or help with addictions while others will be asked to seek help from their own GPs if their conditions are not serious.
The new patient streaming service is part of the trust’s plan to improve urgent and emergency care as well as supporting the winter plan when hospital admissions increase because of seasonal illnesses such as flu and respiratory conditions or major trauma linked to accidents caused by bad weather.
An additional 22 bed ward opened at the end of October and 12 extra assessment beds have been introduced at Hull Royal Infirmary to help cope with the additional demand over winter.
Staff known as “progress checkers” will also be based in the Emergency Department to work with other hospital teams to gather results or book tests so patients can be discharged home or admitted onto a ward sooner.
Joy Dodson, Director of Integrated Commissioning at NHS Hull Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “Winter is an extremely busy time for our emergency services. The new leaflet is a great way to ensure people know where to go for minor injuries or illnesses, keeping A&E free for those with serious life or limb threatening emergencies.
“However, if someone is still not sure what to do, or where to go, I would advise they ring NHS 111 where trained advisors will assess their symptoms and direct them to the right local service.”
[Allison Coggan – Hull University Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust]