Some free advice to hospitals declaring A&E Major Incident status

You do sometimes wonder who is running our NHS hospitals.

An increasing number of hospitals are declaring Major Incidents in their Accident and Emergency departments saying that their staff can’t cope with the unprecedented demand.

Amongst them is my local A&E department at the County Hospital. You may not have heard of the County Hospital. It renamed itself recently after the Mid Staffs NHS Trust was broken up. It used to be called Stafford Hospital.

So you’d think the new trustees would want to ensure that they ran the hospital well. But this time, you can’t put all the blame on Stafford – hospitals around the country are saying they can’t cope.

Most say that they are being overwhelmed by inappropriate cases – people visiting A&E with injuries that do not constitute an accident or an emergency. A spokeswoman for the trust running one of two hospitals in Gloucestershire that has declared a Major Incident cites the case of a woman who visited the hospitals A&E department with a broken toe nail. She said that around one third of patients seen in A&E did not require A&E treatment.

I know that NHS Trusts pay a lot of money to consultants. Here’s some advice from me for free:

1. Reinstate a triage system.

2. Make all patients see a triage nurse immediately after checking in.

3. Prioritise appointments based on the results of the triage examination.

4. Send people with broken toe nails, colds, stomach bugs and other non-accident and emergency ailments home or to an out-of-hours GP system.

If this is done it would reduce A&E usage by a third (assuming the Gloucester figures are representative of the UK) and allow A&E nurses, doctors and consultants to concentrate on real accident and emergencies without the unsuitable cases clogging up the system.


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