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.