NHS targets 1,300 ‘frequent flyer’ patients in Northamptonshire

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Regular A&E attenders who make up two per cent of all NHS treatments are to be assigned their own team of health workers.

The ‘high-frequency attenders’ - or ‘frequent flyers’, as health professionals refer to them - are people with long-term conditions such as lung disease who use A&E excessively rather than non-emergency services.

Visits to GP practices where several such patients are registered are now being looked at, to head off costly and unnecessary hospital visits before the patient becomes very ill.

In Northamptonshire the number of people visiting A&E more than five times a year is 1,326, accounting for a total of 11,577 attendances.

GP Dr Emma Clancy, of St Luke’s Medical Centre in Duston and NHS Nene, said: “It sounds quite dramatic but this is one of the Holy Grails of urgent care.

“If we can stop people getting to the stage when they are so unwell they need emergency treatment it could be good.

“If you can even stop each person going to A&E twice a year, that will be significant.”

Between 1 per cent and 2 per cent of attendances to UK emergency departments are made by ‘frequent flyers’.

The scheme could see people being given extra support if their family who could normally deal with bouts of ill health is on holiday, for example.

Ensuring patients know which community NHS workers to call as soon as they begin to feel ill, could be another aspect.

The new pilot scheme will begin before next winter with Northampton General Hospital.