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PCT deficits force A&E care scheme

A cash-strapped PCT has taken up an LMC-backed plan to use primary care staff to triage patients in A&E.

Emergency care practitioners are being used to triage patients at York Hospital A&E and redirect those that do not need to be treated there to a primary care walk-in centre nearby.

Gary Hardman, director of nursing and patient care with North Yorkshire and York PCT, insisted the proposals were about trying to respond to the needs of patients rather than saving money.

But Dr John Givans, medical secretary of North Yorkshire LMC, said doctors in the area had been campaigning for a system that would better integrate out-of-hours with A&E for years.

'Until now, we've had no progress on it,' he said, suggesting it had only been taken up because of the PCT's £45m overspend.

Dr Givans added that any change in provision should be driven by the desire to improve services.'It should be nothing whatsoever to do with the need to save money. It should be motivated from a patient point of view,' he said.

The aim of the scheme is for emergency care practitioners to direct patients with minor injuries to the walk-in centre rather than treating them in A&E.

Mr Hardman said: 'What we are trying to do is respond to the needs of patients. Patients have multiple access points for unplanned care. We are trying to put in place a more efficient way of triaging patients.'

He told Pulse that the York Hospital services were being modelled on Harrogate Hospital, which has an out-of-hours walk-in centre along the corridor from A&E.

York also has an out-of-hours walk-in centre that should be combined with the A&E department, he said. 'What we are trying to do is respond to the needs of patients,' Mr Hardman added. 'We are not doing anything here that is primarily driven by money.'

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