A pilot scheme at accident and emergency services in Northamptonshire are being put in place to help alleviate pressures on the departments.
Dr Darin Seiger, the chairman the NHS Nene Clincial Commissioning Group (CCG), said the “GP streaming” would see doctors in place in hospitals to help educate those patients who don’t need to attend A&E.
In recent months, Kettering Hospital has struggled with increased patient numbers, and has issued several warnings to people to stay away unless there has been an accident or there is a genuine emergency.
Dr Seiger, who took part in the first session at Northampton hospital yesterday (Monday, November 25), said: “The first few people that came through the door were the ones who couldn’t get into the GP practice, and we know that access is an issue in general practice.
“A lot of people were coming in for second opinions, they had had headaches for three months, the GP tried loads and loads of things and they got fed up so they came in for a second opinion.
“Of course they weren’t happy, but I just said, ‘Look, you’re in the wrong place, you need to go back to your practice, I’m not going to be able to help you’. But it’s the right thing to do.”
Kettering Hospital is also hosting volunteers from Age UK Northamptonshire to mentor some people in A&E to ensure they are not at hospital unnecessarily.
Meanwhile, Dr Seiger said the CCG is looking at measures to save hundreds of millions of pounds over the next few years.
He has described plans to streamline services in three areas – dermatology, muscular-skeletal services and ophthalmology – throughout the county by having departments at just one site rather than both Kettering and Northampton Hospitals.
He said: “We are into the major transformation, where the target is £275m over the next five years.
“We can’t just nibble at the edges any more.
“What we are saying is we want a county-wide service and we want the very best service for all of the patients in Northamptonshire. We are working with Northampton and Kettering hospital clinicians to develop that.
“So potentially what we would do is decommission that from both of them and then put it out to the best provider that can deliver the best quality services. As they currently are, they are both not financially viable.”