Region’s urgent primary care alliance to use Advanced’s triaging solution so patients calling 111 and visiting A&E are triaged in the same way.
A&E departments across Greater Manchester are coming together to use an integrated urgent care platform, which will reduce waiting times and ensure patients across the region are quickly triaged to the most appropriate and consistent care. This latest move comes at a critical time when A&E departments in the region are struggling to cope with the rise in Covid-19 admissions and patients are waiting hours for a bed.
The Greater Manchester Urgent Primary Care Alliance (GMUPCA), the urgent care partner for the region, is leading the roll out of Odyssey, a clinical decision support solution from software provider Advanced, to reduce pressure on emergency departments across 10 NHS trusts and ensure patients calling 111 or visiting A&E are triaged in the same way. Odyssey is a tried and tested triage tool which, in 2018, was implemented by Greater Manchester’s Clinical Assessment Service (CAS) to triage category three and four calls.
It will now mean that, before patients visit an A&E department in Greater Manchester, they will be triaged beforehand by telephone. Staff will be able to prioritise patients with the most urgent care needs and redirect any less urgent patients to more appropriate services such as their GP practice, out of hours centres, mental health services or self-care. Patients that call 111 and are triaged to A&E will be offered an appointment or appointment slot which will significantly reduce the number of people sitting in waiting rooms.
Nine of the region’s NHS trusts will go live with the telephone triage tool from the start of December, and Royal Bolton Hospital will be the first to go live with the tool at its A&E department.
Dr David Ratcliffe, Clinical Lead for Urgent Care at Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership says: “True integration of urgent and emergency care for patients in Greater Manchester is based upon the principles of equity and shared standards. Operationally, the ability to organise care for patients based on a single digital system for appointments, consultation and referral is an absolutely key component.”
Dr Zahid Chauhan OBE, Chief Clinical Lead at GMUPCA, adds: “By triaging patients before they walk into the hospital, A&E staff are less likely to be overstretched which is critical as the country prepares for another winter crisis exacerbated by rising Covid-19 admissions. Through Advanced’s system, we will be able to bring patients to the right place and ensure they get the right treatment fast. It’s a much more integrated and collaborative approach so all patients across Greater Manchester will receive the same patient journey.”
The latest initiative follows the success of a 90-day pilot which saw the North West Ambulance Service’s low acuity calls to 999 passed to GMUPCA, which used Advanced’s clinical patient management software, Adastra, to deliver a local integrated urgent care response. It saved the ambulance service hundreds of ambulance hours per week while also expediting thousands of patient journeys, cut down conveyance to A&E and facilitated care closer to patients’ homes.
Now, with the combination of Advanced’s Odyssey and Adastra solutions integrated and used across all 111, 999 and A&E services in Greater Manchester, patients will receive consistent and faster care regardless of which service provider they are triaged to, which will consequently reduce pressure on NHS services and save money.
“The implementation of an integrated urgent care solution couldn’t come at a more critical time,” comments Ric Thompson, Managing Director – Health & Care, at Advanced. “Earlier this month, the North West Ambulance Service declared a major incident due to a surge in calls to 111 and 999 which resulted in delays and queues at A&E departments.
“Quite clearly, the NHS is overstretched which is why we are now seeing a shift in thinking that A&E is a drop-in venue open to all to something that patients are triaged to. Already, we have seen the NHS develop a 111 First programme to minimise overcrowding in A&E in light of Covid-19. Now, A&E departments are ramping up support ahead of winter so they can avoid the crisis we’ve sadly seen in previous years.”