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NHS Pathways is a clinical assessment

I was surprised to read Rick Stern, urgent care lead for the NHS Alliance, claim telephone assessment using NHS Pathways is a ‘non-clinical assessment’

Gulf in 111 out-of-hours impact revealed

With NHS Pathways, callers are referred to all levels of care, not just primary care, and even in the out-of-hours period if the caller is assessed as needing a routine primary care appointment, they will be advised to attend daytime services, unless local policy decides they are seen earlier.

NHS Pathways is a clinical assessment tool which has been developed and is managed by the NHS clinical community. Clinical content for NHS Pathways is overseen, reviewed and approved by the national clinical governance group, chaired by the RCGP. 

This is an independent group made up of clinical representatives from the College of Emergency Medicine, the BMA and other organisations with an interest in the delivery of urgent care.

All referral timeframes are agreed by this group and the NHS clinical community as best practice. Where anyone feels a timeframe is incorrect this is changeable based on the clinical evidence and review by this group.

Similarly NHS Pathways does not decide on home visits – that is the domain of the organisations delivering those services. NHS Pathways has been evaluated on behalf of the Department of Health by the Universities of Sheffield, Southampton and Swansea.

They concluded that the NHS Pathways system was ‘safe and appropriate’.

From Dr Peter Fox

Clinical director, NHS Pathways