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UHNM urgent and emergency patients seen quicker thanks to GP partnership initiative

A partnership initiative between North Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent GPs (North Staffordshire GP Federation) and University Hospitals of North Midlands has led to more patients being seen quicker without waiting unnecessarily in the Trust’s Emergency Department.

The reception team at Royal Stoke University Hospital’s A&E is now able to access the clinical notes used by primary care across North Staffordshire. This means that if a patient in sent to A&E by their GP, Haywood Hospital or Moorlands Hospital in Leek the necessary information is readily available to hand without the patient needing to repeat their details and symptoms.

Many patients are sent to the Emergency Department without a letter of explanation as to why they are attending which means the patient is required to explain to staff again. This can cause delays in the department and impact on waiting times.

Thanks to the new collaboration and shared access to clinical systems, the Emergency Department is able to access and print the letter allowing a clinical decision to be made as to where the patient is best placed to be seen. This could be another department such as the Surgical Assessment Unit – saving time and getting appropriate speciality care first time.

In May, the reception team accessed 413 letters for patients compared to 146 in February when the initiative was launched. These are primary care consultations that previously the Trust would have had no clinical information for. Half of these patients were felt to be appropriate to be diverted to other emergency portals at Royal Stoke.

Today Dr Andrew Davy who has led the initiative, said: “Being able to access clinical patient information in this way from our colleagues across the health and care system makes a huge difference for our patients who no longer have to wait in two assessment areas. It also means that others waiting in the department get seen quicker as it decongests the ED waiting area of patients that are more appropriate for specialist review.

He added: “It is testament to great joined up health system team working between the GP Federation and UHNM to enable better health care outcomes for our patients and a big achievement from our reception team who have done an amazing job of learning the new system, using it to improve the patient journey in an already time pressured environment.”

Patient Michael Erwin of Milton, Stoke-on-Trent was referred to Royal Stoke by his GP after needing to go to the toilet all the time and suffering with pains in his legs. He said: “The doctor was concerned about the pains in my legs so gave me a letter and referred me to Royal Stoke. The thought of waiting in an A&E is my worst nightmare and I knew there would be much sicker people than me and could be waiting for a long time, so it was great that once I was seen in reception that I was taken straight through to a different department. Thanks to the GP letter, I avoided waiting in the A&E and had a number of tests and an MRI scan all within two hours.”

In addition to A&E staff being able to access GP letters, the patient’s GP record is now also accessible in the Trust’s Enhanced Primary Care Centre which is also based at Royal Stoke. This means that for the first time UHNM clinicians can review medications patients are taking, what allergies they have and what tests they may have had done in an urgent care setting.

“Urgent referrals and investigations can also be ordered using this system providing a truly joined up service between primary and secondary care and improving safety and continuity of care, all while providing a much better experience for patients,” Dr Davy said.

Dr Ian Gibson, of North Staffordshire GP Federation, said:  “We are very pleased to work together with UHNM to provide an excellent service for patients.  The ability to request basic investigations and make urgent referrals enables the clinicians to work almost as if they were sitting in their own GP surgery.”