TRIALS are being undertaken at Fairfield Hospital in a bid to reduce the number of admissions to the accident and emergency department.

One experiment last week saw non-life threatened patients arriving at A&E told to return later for an appointment or even to come back the following day to get the correct care

Health bosses say they need to ensure patients seeking urgent care are treated in the right place and also that on occasions they need to reduce number entering the department so social distancing guidelines can be observed.

Steve Taylor chief officer at  Bury & Rochdale Care Organisation said the Covid pandemic had allowed them to accelerate changes to urgent care that had been previously planned.

He said: “Urgent care transformation has been on the agenda for a long time in Bury through care closer to home and easier pathways for patients to access care.

“What we found through Covid is that it enabled a lot of the work to be  accelerated on changes we are doing to try to get patients to the right place, which is not always A&E.

“Previously he numbers at A&E were going up and up but Covid changed landscape with a 50 per cent reduction.

“Patients chose to do different things.

“We learned the lessons of what was appropriate to take forward.

“With the need for social distancing we  can’t go back to A&E departments  crammed to rafters.

“We can’t  have pressures on bedstock.

“We need a lower rate of bed occupancy  of around 80 per cent so we have got the right places for Covid patients.

“The aim is that patients feel safe and secure and  get the right treatment at the right time.”

Zeph Curwen, divisional managing director at  Bury & Rochdale Care Organisation, told the meeting of a trial at Fairfield Hospital.

She said:  ” An element of this work is a two door emergency department to triage patients who turn up to make sure they get what they need.

“We don’t impede access for critical care, that being threat to limb or life, but the Manchester Triage Tool sees a clinician up front at the emergency department to determine how patients  are seen .

“As an example one test at Fairfield Hospital last week was at the front door of the emergency department with a clinician using the Manchester triage tool to stream people through to the urgent care section on the site.

“What happens is that because of social distancing is that we run out of space quicker than we would pre Covid.

“So if we have run out of waiting room and can’t manage social distancing any patient suitable can return later with a booked appointment even come back the next day

“In the test eight patients were asked return later or the next day with good feedback.”

Steve Taylor said changes to urgent care in Bury after a public consultation last year are now being implemented

He said pressure on emergency departments would be relieved by  focussing on nursing homes so they don’t phone 999 and send patients to hospital when that is not necessary.

He said: “We are using virtual technology and consultants on the end of a  phone.

“GPs are doing ward rounds in care homes to give care plans.”

He said reduced admissions to hospitals would be of benefit to many patients.

He said: “All the evidence suggests that if you’re frail, a hospital admission  is damaging to health .

“It’s far better to give care in the home.

“If patients do need hospital admission then we get them home with support wrapped around them as soon as we can.”