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Independents' Day

Patients to be able to track availability of NHS services in new app

Patients can download a new free app which informs them if their local NHS services are experiencing delays.

NHSquicker provides people in Devon and Cornwall with access to up-to-date waiting times for A&Es and minor injury units. It also calculates how long it takes patients to reach a treatment centre, based on their geolocation.  

Information about other NHS services such as nearby GPs (including opening times and contact details), pharmacies, sexual health services, dentist and opticians will also be available through the app, its inventors said.

The app, which also directs patients to NHS 111 and NHS Choices if they are not sure what service they need, is a joint effort of academics at the University of Exeter and professionals from Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust.

Together they founded the Health and Care Information, Modelling, Predication and evaluation to inform ACTion (IMPACT) Network, which aims at finding solutions to alleviate pressure on A&Es and urgent care services, which are becoming more crowded following winter pressures.

As the Royal College of Emergency Medicine (RCEM) found earlier this month, only 82.45% of A&E departments manage to see patients within four hours of attending.

NHS England had previously asked GPs to do early home visits in a bid to ease delays at A&Es.   

Consultant in emergency medicine and clinical director of the emergency department at Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust Dr Nick Mathieu said: ‘This app will give people the information they need so they can make informed decisions about where to go for treatment.

‘We hope NHSquicker will increase awareness of the different options for treating minor injuries and illnesses. We hope this will contribute to reducing pressure on emergency departments, so they can focus on the most urgent cases.’

Users will be able to get the app from the app store on their smartphones and tablets (Apple or Android).  

Note: The headline of this article was amended at 15.58 on 14 December to reflect that patients cannot see availability of GP appointments in the app.

Readers' comments (5)

  • Vinci Ho

    Once again , uneven distribution of resources.
    Opening the door wider to let certain people walk in , ACCESS. But the opening is too small for those who could not use the door .
    Another good example of liberty taking equality for granted.

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  • When will they learn that the more access you give the more services will be used, all this will do is make A/Es busier overall, it will not reduce demand which is what is needed. As GPs we need to resist this constant effort of NHS England etc of change rather than consolidation of what we have

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  • I used to avoid using my local refuse centre as the queues could be massive. Then the local authority put a webcam online which showed the car queue in real time. Now I use it more frequently as I can go when I can see it is less busy. I cannot imagine why this app will not have a similar effect - smoothing the peaks in attendance (ticks the 4 hour target box) but increasing overall demand.

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  • "This app will give people the information they need so they can make informed decisions about where to go for treatment."

    This is a worrying sentence. It seems to imply that if a patient is faced with a potential wait for a GP appotinment, the "information they need" to decide whether to go to A&E instead is how long the queue is. Rather than anything related to clinical urgency.

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  • Shops use a sophisticated method of calculating how much food they need to buy in across 1000s of lines of product, each with different quality, packaging, taste, use by date and quantity.

    There is no central authority to plan this food chain, or to set the national food budget from parliament, or to allocate separate budgets to grocers vs butchers vs bakers on behalf of the population.

    They use a self correcting mechanism that can transfer deferred payment and stored value into the supply of a time limited product.

    This mechanism is commonly called 'money' and it is used to balance the infinitely variable web of supply and demand in an economic system.

    Meanwhile in 2017 the UK NHS persists with a communist central tax and control economic model.

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