Trials of new systems to prevent overcrowding in emergency departments ahead of a potential second wave of COVID-19 in the winter are taking place at hospitals in Portsmouth and Cornwall and are due to shortly be expanded to other areas, with Dorset and Newcastle likely sites, HSJ can reveal.
London is also experimenting with introducing the system, having pulled back from an earlier proposal to roll it out it rapidly, shortly after the COVID-19 peak.
In the trials, NHS 111 has acted as a “triage point” enabling patients not facing medical emergencies but needing urgent treatment to book access to primary care, urgent treatment centres or same-day emergency “hot clinics” staffed by specialists.
Patients are discouraged from attending without an appointment, but they are able to do so; and sources said performance targets would continue to apply to them, although these were already subject to review pre-covid.
Both the Royal College of Emergency Medicine and NHSE are now hopeful a new triage system for emergency care can be in place by the winter.
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Source: 15 July 2020