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Found 34 results
  1. News Article
    People requiring A&E will be urged to book an appointment through NHS 111 under a trial in parts of England. The aim is to direct patients to the most clinically-appropriate service and to help reduce pressure on emergency departments as staff battle winter pressures, such as coronavirus and flu. The pilots are live in Cornwall, Portsmouth, Hampshire and Blackpool and have just begun in Warrington. If they are successful, they could be rolled out to all trusts in December. However, people with a life-threatening condition should still call 999. Under the new changes, patients will still be able to seek help at A&E without an appointment, but officials say they are likely to end up waiting longer than those who have gone through 111. More NHS 111 call handlers are being brought in to take on the additional workload, alongside extra clinicians, the Department of Health and Social Care said. A campaign called Help Us Help You will launch later in the year to urge people to use the new service. Read full story Source: BBC News, 17 September 2020
  2. News Article
    GP practices are being told they must make sure patients can be seen face to face when they need such appointments. NHS England is writing to all practices to make sure they are communicating the fact doctors can be seen in person if necessary, as well as virtually. It's estimated half of the 102 million appointments from March to July were by video or phone call, NHS Digital said. However, the Royal College of GPs said any implication GPs had not been doing their job properly was "an insult". NHS England said research suggested nearly two thirds of the public were happy to have a phone or video call with their doctor - but that, ahead of winter, they wanted to make sure people knew they could see their GP if needed. Nikki Kanani, medical director of primary care for NHS England, said GPs had adapted quickly in recent months to offer remote consultations and "safe face-to-face care when needed". Prof Martin Marshall, chair of the Royal College of GPs, said general practice was "open and has been throughout the pandemic", with a predominantly remote service to help stop the spread of coronavirus. He said: "The college does not want to see general practice become a totally, or even mostly, remote service post-pandemic. However, we are still in the middle of a pandemic. We need to consider infection control and limit footfall in GP surgeries - all in line with NHS England's current guidance." He said most patients had understood the changes and that clinical commissioning groups had been asked to work with GP practices where face-to-face appointments were not possible - for example, if all GPs were at a high risk from coronavirus. "Any implication that they have not been doing their job properly is an insult to GPs and their teams who have worked throughout the pandemic, continued delivering the vast majority of patient care in the NHS and face an incredibly difficult winter ahead," he said. Read full story Source: BBC News, 14 September 2020 Research from the college indicated that routine GP appointments were back to near-normal levels for this time of year, after decreasing at the height of the pandemic. "Each and every day last week an estimated third of a million appointments were delivered face to face by general practices across the country," added Prof Marshall.
  3. News Article
    Pilots for a new urgent care model requiring walk-in patients to book slots in emergency departments are expected to be rolled out in at least one site in every health system in the coming weeks, HSJ has learned. The move comes amid concerns from trust managers who warned some 111 providers’ systems were too “risk averse” and were sending too many patients who could have been treated in other care settings to hospitals. Local managers believe NHS 111 not directing enough people to alternative services was a cause of a major incident at Gloucestershire Hospitals Foundation Trust’s emergency services earlier this month, HSJ understands. And trust leaders in other parts of the country are understood to have similar concerns. Trials of 111 First have already been publicly confirmed at Portsmouth Hospitals Trust, Royal Cornwall Trust, Newcastle Hospitals FT and Blackpool Hospitals FT. HSJ also understands five London sites, one for each integrated care system in the capital, are also running trials. These “early adopter” trusts have been given autonomy to trial different models for “111 First”. Most EDs at these sites still treat “walk-in patients” as normal. But in Portsmouth, patients with minor injuries who turn up at ED without calling ahead have, on three different days, been instead told to call 111 following assessments. NHS England said further trials will take place in the Midlands and East of England, but the specific trusts undertaking these trials have not been decided yet. Read full story (paywalled) Source: HSJ, 2 September 2020
  4. News Article
    Trusts are being encouraged to adopt a system in which patients initiate follow up appointments by the lastest guidance from NHS England designed to help the NHS recover from the covid crisis. It is hoped the approach can reduce unnecessary demand and therefore help trusts cut waiting lists that have soared as a result of the restrictions placed on hospital activity during the pandemic. Under 'patient initiated follow up' (PIFU) patients decide when they require follow up appointments. They are given guidance as to what symptoms and other factors they should take into account when deciding if a follow up appointment is necessary. PIFU is already used by some trusts, but it has not yet become widely adopted. The plan to increase PIFUs was set out in a guidance published today designed to underpin the “phase three letter” sent out to NHS leaders last week. The guidance, Implementing phase 3 of the NHS response to COVID-19 pandemic , says “individual services should develop their own guidance, criteria and protocols on when to use PIFUs”. The document also sets out some overarching principles. It says services will be rated against the following headline metrics: “total number and proportion of patients on the PIFU pathway; patient outcomes, e.g. recovery rates, relapse rates; waiting times; and DNA rates”. Read full story (paywalled) Source: HSJ, 7 August 2020
  5. News Article
    Hundreds of thousands of NHS patients could lose the ability to see their GP face to face because their doctors may have to protect themselves from coronavirus. An analysis by the Health Foundation charity has found around a third of GPs who run their practice on their own are at high risk from the virus themselves. If they are forced to abandon face-to-face consultations the charity warned it could deny 710,000 patients access to their doctor. Dr Rebecca Fisher, senior policy fellow at the Health Foundation and a GP said: “The ongoing risk of Covid-19 to the safety of both patients and GPs means hundreds of thousands of people may find it much harder to get a face-to-face GP appointment. “It’s particularly worrying that GPs at higher risk from Covid-19 are far more likely to be working in areas of high deprivation. Those are precisely the areas with the greatest health need, the biggest burden from Covid-19, and an existing under-supply of GPs relative to need. Unless urgent action is taken this could become another way in which poorer communities become further disadvantaged, and risks further widening health inequalities.” Read full story Source: The Independent, 6 August 2020
  6. News Article
    New guidance requires GPs to offer at least some face-to-face appointments, amid reports that some had completely eliminated them, sparking ‘significant incidents’. NHS England’s instructions for the third phase of the NHS response to COVID-19 were issued on Friday, including the call that “all GP practices must offer face to face appointments at their surgeries” along with remote triage and remote consultations. Most appointments in primary care have been carried out remotely since the NHS instituted new operating procedures in response to covid, with practices offering a mix of remote consultations over the telephone or video, with a diminished number face-to-face. However, there have been reports of some GP practices not offering any face-to-face appointments at all, and continuing this approach following the peak of cases in the spring. A letter to GPs last month told them they must offer appointments in person “where clinically appropriate”, now reiterated in the phase three guidance. The letter added: “It should be clear to patients that all practice premises are open to provide care, with adjustments to the mode of delivery. No practice should be communicating to patients that their premises are closed.” Read full story Source: HSJ, 4 August 2020
  7. Content Article
    HSJ revealed this month that the ’call before you walk’ model is being trialed in London, Portsmouth and Cornwall, with system leaders keen for a wider roll-out ahead of winter. In these trials, which have received the backing of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, NHS 111 is being used as a “triage point” enabling patients needing urgent treatment, but not facing medical emergencies, to book access to primary care, urgent treatment centres or same-day emergency “hot clinics” staffed by specialists. Emergency patients just walking in, or those arriving via ambulance, will be treated, in theory, as per the current system. Similar models are used in Denmark, Norway and the Netherlands where they have high approval ratings. But these are vastly different healthcare systems with better resourced out of hospital services. So, can the model work in the English NHS? It is critical to view efforts to introduce ‘call before you walk’ in the wider policy context. The move is part of a far wider radical overhaul of emergency care pathways broadly designed to address the dangerous overcrowding seen in EDs in recent years.
  8. News Article
    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. Read full story (paywalled) Source: 15 July 2020
  9. News Article
    People with non-life threatening illnesses will be told to call before going to Wales' biggest A&E department. Patients will be assessed remotely and given a time slot for the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff if needed. Hospital bosses feel returning to over-crowded waiting rooms would provide an "unacceptable" risk to patients due to coronavirus. The system is set to start at the end of July, but will not apply to people with serious illnesses or injuries. Details are still being discussed by Cardiff and Vale health board, but patients with less serious illnesses or injuries will be told to phone ahead, most likely on the 24-hour number used to contact the local GP out-of-hours service. They will be assessed by a doctor or a nurse and, depending on the severity of the condition, will either be given a time window to go to A&E or be directed to other services. This system was introduced in Denmark several years ago. "This is all about being safe and ensuring that emergency medicine and emergency care is safe and not about putting barriers in place to those more vulnerable people," says the department's lead-doctor Dr Katja Empson. "What we really think is that by using this system, we'll be able to focus our attention on those vulnerable groups when they do present." If successful, the system could become a long-term answer to reducing pressures on emergency medicine, she added. Read full story Source: BBC News, 14 July 2020
  10. News Article
    Waiting times for tests and treatment not related to COVID-19 are likely to increase significantly in the second half of 2020 because of the fallout from the pandemic, the head of NHS England has acknowledged. Giving evidence to the Commons health select committee on 30 June, NHS England’s chief executive Simon Stevens said that contrary to some commentary, the NHS’s overall waiting list actually dropped by over half a million people between February and April 2020 because fewer people were coming forward for treatment. But, he added, “As referrals return we expect that will go up significantly over the second half of the year.” Stevens said that there were 725 000 fewer elective admissions to NHS hospitals during March and April, but that number has begun to recover significantly. “As we speak, we think we’re now somewhere north of 55% of pre-covid-19 elective activity levels,” he said. He added that he hoped the NHS would return to around three quarters of normal activity levels by July or August. Stevens told MPs that the NHS would pursue a range of measures to increase capacity over the coming months, including extending the deal with the private sector to use its facilities, and repurposing some of the Nightingale hospitals for diagnostic testing. Read full story Source: BMJ, 1 July 2020
  11. Content Article
    The outpatient appointment Attending an outpatient appointment, in my experience, is daunting at the best of times. First, there is the appointment date. Often you have had to wait an exceptionally long time for this appointment (providing the referral letter hasn’t been lost). The date and time are chosen by the Trust. There are some Trusts and specialities that will allow you to choose a time and place, but more often than not you are not able to choose and changing the date and time can prove tricky. There are many reasons for a patient not to turn up for an appointment. These reasons and how to mitigate them are looked at by Trusts. The 'Did not attend' (DNA) rate is looked at by Trusts. DNAs have an enormous impact on the healthcare system in terms of increasing both costs and waiting times. Trusts often want to reduce these to: reduce costs improve clinic or service efficiency enable more effective booking of slots reduce mismatch between demand and capacity increase productivity. Then there is getting there. Getting time off work or college, making childcare arrangements, getting transport… finding parking! Before patients even get to the appointment, they have often been up a while planning this trip. Imagine what this must be like for a patient with learning disabilities. This poses even more planning. What medication might we meed to take with us? Are there changing facilities for adults? Can we get access? Is there space to wait? Will anyone understand me? How long will we be there for? Do they have all my information? Services need to be designed with patients' needs at the forefront: the ability to change appointment dates, the location in where the appointment is held, parking facilities, length of appointment, type of appointment, is a virtual appointment or telephone appointment more appropriate? If you have a learning disability, you may have a family member or carer with you. If you have transitioned out of children’s services you will be seeing someone new, in a new environment. You may not have had the time to discuss the fine nuances to your care that is really important to you. You have now left the comfort bubble of paediatrics where you and your family had built up trust with the previous consultant and care team, and you are now having to build up new relationships. What is in place for you to feel comfortable? Has anyone asked what would help? The consultation Reasonable adjustments such as a double-length consultation is a great way of ensuring people with learning disabilities have enough time to process information and are given time to answer questions. Extra time is only one of many reasonable adjustments that can be made. An example... I would like to reflect on a recent time when I cared for a patient with autism and I didn’t have all the information to enable me to plan care for them at this particular time. This patient had spinal surgery and spent a very brief period on the intensive care unit. As part of my role as a critical care outreach nurse, I see patients who have been in the intensive care unit to check that they are doing well, that ongoing plans of care are in place and that they understand what has happened to them. I read that this patient had autism, but I had no other information. I was unaware of how the autism affected her, if she needed a carer, what she likes, dislikes, how to approach conversations or anything that was important to her. There is a health passport that can be used to aid exactly this information, this is filled out by the patient with their family or carer. Unfortunately, I could not locate the passport. I read the medical notes and went in armed with my usual questions and proforma that we use for all patients. Usual visits like this last from around 10 minutes (for a quick check) to an hour if they are a complex long stay. With the operation that this patient had, I was expecting to be with the patient for around 20 minutes. After introducing myself to the patient, it was clear that the proforma I was going to use wasn’t going to work. Tick boxes and quick fire questions were not the right way of going about this consultation. This patient was scared. More scared than a patient without autism. Their usual routine was gone, they were unable to ask as many questions as they normally would as the nurses and doctors were busy, their surroundings were different, the food was different, new medications, new faces everyday – there was no consistency. The ward round had just happened, the patient had a good plan in place and was due to go home the following day. Normally, this would mean that my visit would be a quick one as the clinical needs of the patient are less complex. This visit took me 90 minutes. Not only did I not have the care passport to hand, due to the coronavirus pandemic I had a face mask on. I felt completely ill-equipped for this consultation. I knew I was missing vital pieces of information which would help me communicate with this patent more effectively. So much of our communication is from facial expressions. A smile for reassurance makes a huge difference. I now have yet another barrier to overcome to communicate with my patient in a way that they can understand and feel comfortable. This particular patient asked many questions. This I had not factored into my day. I have a list of 12 patients to see, in between answering calls from staff on wards who have unwell patients for me to review. It’s too late to abandon the consultation or leave it for a less busy time. I’m at the patient’s bedside and I’m already committed to giving this patient my full attention. After we spent around 20 minutes discussing why I had to wear a mask, what the mask was made of, how many I had to wear in a day, why patients were not wearing masks, we then got onto the subject of food. Where the food is made, how does it get here, who heats it up? Then it came to the other patients in the bay. She knew all of them by name and proceeded to tell me the goings on that happened during the night. I’m clearly not going to get my proforma completed here. This is because my proforma is not important to my patient. "What matters to you?" During my Darzi Fellowship I had the opportunity to visit the Royal Free. Here I met an amazing physiotherapist called Karen Turner. She introduced me to asking the question ‘What matters to you?’ Simple – but so very effective and empowering for your patient to be asked this. The food, my mask and the people around her were of greatest importance to my patient at this time – not what she thought of her stay or if she wanted me to go through the intensive care unit steps booklet; these were important for me to know, these were questions that gave the Trust insight of what is important to them. It dawned on me that we had designed our follow-up service to suit us and not involved families or the patient. I feel a quality improvement project coming on! Reasonable adjustments take planning, as clinicians we need to know about them. We need to factor them into our work. The NHS has just enough capacity to run if all patients followed the NHS pathways, if all patients grasped everything and followed all instructions, took their medications on time, turned up for their appointments – there wouldn’t be a problem. It takes me back to the clip from the BBC programme ‘Yes Minister’ of the fully functioning hospital with no patients and that services run very well without patients! Currently systems within the NHS are designed around the building, the staff within it and the targets that are set out by NHS England and the Department of Health and Social Care. If we started designing care and access around patient need and ask them what would make it easier – what helps? what matters to you? – what would healthcare look like? During this time of uncertainty and change, I see exciting opportunities to take stock and see what’s working and what isn’t – and lets start involving patients at every stage. Call to action What are you doing to ensure reasonable adjustments are made for people with learning disabilities where you work? What more needs to be done to ensure that people with learning disabilities feel part of the conversation and play an active role in their care? Are you a patient, carer or relative? What has your experience been like? Have you any experiences in designing services with patients? Perhaps you are a patient and have been a part of the process. Add your comments below, start a conversation in the Community area or contact us. We'd love to hear your thoughts and experiences.
  12. News Article
    Appointments to be seen in A&E could be introduced permanently in response to coronavirus, the president of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine has said. Dr Katherine Henderson said it would cause "enormous harm" to patients if Britain returned to crowded casualty units with "elastic walls". Instead, she said patients should be given a "contact point" such as the NHS 111 line to book a slot in an emergency department, or to be seen directly by a specialist or diverted to the care they need. "The old way of doing things involved emergency departments having elastic walls," Dr Henderson told MPs. "We were able to have an infinite number of patients. We were never able to say: 'We're full, we're at capacity.' We now need to recognise that we can't do that." Read full story (paywalled) Source: The Telegraph, 16 June 2020
  13. News Article
    A poll of members by the Medical Protection Society (MPS) found that 43% of doctors fear investigation if patients come to harm because of delays to referrals and reduced NHS services during the pandemic. Treatment has been delayed for millions of patients while the NHS has focused on managing the pandemic - with GPs in many areas still unable to refer as normal and even urgent referrals delayed while the UK has been in lockdown. The NHS Confederation has warned that 10 million people could be on NHS waiting lists by Christmas. Reduced NHS services during the pandemic have left even patients who need urgent treatment or scans for cancer waiting longer. GPonline reported in April that patients had been waiting more than a month for urgent cancer checks - and Cancer Research UK warned in May that 2.4 million patients were waiting longer for scans or treatment because of disruption to services during the pandemic. Read full story Source: GPonline, 11 June 2020
  14. News Article
    The postponement of tens of thousands of hospital procedures is putting the lives of people with long-term heart conditions at risk, according to the British Heart Foundation. The coronavirus pandemic has created a backlog which would only get larger as patients waited for care, it said. People with heart disease are at increased risk of serious illness with COVID-19, and some are shielding. The BHF estimates that 28,000 procedures have been delayed in England since the outbreak of coronavirus in the UK. These are planned hospital procedures, including the implanting of pacemakers or stents, widening blocked arteries to the heart, and tests to diagnose heart problems. People now waiting for new appointments would already have been waiting for treatment when the lockdown started, the charity said, as it urged the NHS to support people with heart conditions "in a safe way". Read full story Source: 5 June 2020
  15. News Article
    Suspected cancer patients are being refused hospital appointments despite being referred by GPs, it has emerged. Family doctors working for one NHS trust in north east London claimed that hundreds of referrals had been rejected in recent weeks. Many were for ultrasounds and chest X-rays and were sent via the two-week wait system, in which suspected cancer patients referred by GPs are seen within a fortnight. A rejection letter sent from Whipps Cross hospital seen by Pulse magazine, said the referral had been “due to the Covid-19 pandemic”. It added: “Following triage by a consultant radiologist, your imaging request has been assessed as non-urgent and cancelled.” Read full story Source: The Telegraph (18 May 202)
  16. News Article
    Tens of thousands of outpatient video consultations have been carried out by NHS trusts following the national rollout of a digital platform to support the coronavirus response. Digital healthcare service Attend Anywhere was introduced across the country at the end of March after NHSX chief clinical information officer Simon Eccles called for its rapid expansion. There has been a major push to boost digital healthcare services across the country in order to support the national response to coronavirus. Much of primary care has already switched to working virtually. Undertaking hospital outpatient appointments digitally has been identified as a way of keeping patients safe by removing their need to travel. There have now been more than 79,000 consultations with Attend Anywhere. The number of consultations started at around 200 per day, but has rapidly increased to more than 6,000 per day. Data released by NHS Digital showed that GPs moved swiftly to change their practice model in the face of COVID-19. The proportion of appointments conducted face-to-face nearly halved and the proportion of telephone appointments increased by over 600 per cent from 1 March to 31 March as GPs moved to keep patients out of surgeries except when absolutely necessary. However, concerns have been raised over the limitation of remote appointments, particularly in mental health services. Royal College of GPs chair Martin Marshall raised concerns that video appointments could make it difficult for doctors to diagnose and manage patients’ conditions during the pandemic. Read full story Source: HSJ, 11 May 2020
  17. News Article
    Concerns for the wellbeing of babies born in lockdown are being raised, as parents struggle to access regular support services. England's children's commissioner is highlighting pressures facing mothers caring for babies without the usual family and state support networks. Playgroups are closed and health visitor "visits" are being carried out remotely in most cases. The NHS said adaptations had been made to keep new mothers and babies safe. The briefing paper from Anne Longfield's office says an estimated 76,000 babies will have been born in England under lockdown so far. But births are not being registered, because of temporary rules tied to the virus pandemic, so even basic information about new babies is not being gathered. At the same time, support services provided by health visitors and GPs are not readily accessible, with many taking place via phone and video calls or not at all. There are concerns many babies may have missed their developmental health checks, due in the first few weeks of life to pick up urgent developmental needs. "In some areas, the six-week GP baby check hasn't been available or parents haven't wanted to attend it due to a potential risk of infection," she said. Read full story Source: BBC News, 7 May 2020
  18. News Article
    GPs will now be able to access records for patients registered at other practices during the coronavirus epidemic in a major relaxation of current rules. The move will allow appointments to be shared across practices, and NHS 111 staff will also have access to records to let them book direct appointments for patients at any GP practice or specialist centre. The change in policy has been initiated by NHS Digital and NHSX to enable swift and secure sharing of patient records across primary care during the covid-19 pandemic. It means that the GP Connect1 system, currently used by some practices to share records on a voluntary basis, will be switched on at all practices until the pandemic is over. In addition, extra information including significant medical history, reason for medication, and immunisations will be added to patients’ summary care records and made available to a wider group of healthcare professionals. Usually, individuals must opt in but following the changes only people who have opted out will be excluded. Read full story Source: The BMJ, 27 April 2020
  19. News Article
    The British Dental Association (BDA) has criticised NHS England for “dragging its feet” in setting up an urgent care system for dental patients, putting further strain on already overstretched GPs. At the end of March, dental practices were ordered to suspend all routine treatment, as part of plans to prevent the spread of coronavirus. NHS regions were instructed to set up local urgent dental care centres. However, GPs have told HSJ they have been experiencing a rise in calls from patients with dental problems, but when they direct them to the urgent care centres, appointments appear to be limited. The BDA has said, in some regions, there is “nowhere” to send patients in need of urgent dental care. Sources working in primary care and tech said GPs were dealing with a spike in demand from dental patients who did not know where to go. Read full story Source: HSJ, 17 April 2020
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