Northampton General Hospital (NGH) have witnessed increased pressure on their Accident and Emergency (A&E) department, with, on average, 17 more people attending A&E each day in 2015/16 compared to 2013/14. To gain a better understanding of why more patient are attending A&E and whether anything can be done to prevent inappropriate attendances, NGH, with the help of Healthwatch Northamptonshire, conducted a survey of ‘walk-in’ patients attending A&E over a 24 hour period in March 2016.
The results show that a large number of patients surveyed had attempted to, or managed to, speak to a healthcare professional prior to going to A&E.
Of those who were advised to attend, a concerning number were identified as potentially being inappropriate attendees to the department, with conditions and concerns that could have been dealt with elsewhere. The comments made by patients indicated that some had experienced difficulties in getting to see a GP but it was not possible to tell whether patients were being sent to A&E to ease the pressure on GP surgeries or not. The report suggests that improving the education of patients, access to GP services, use of pharmacies and advice given by the national 111 service may reduce the number of patients attending A&E. These findings were shared with the NGH Trust Board and Clinical Commissioning Group.