Our urgent and emergency care services come under particular pressure in winter. Colder weather and seasonal illnesses like flu put frail older people and those with longterm illnesses especially at risk of becoming acutely unwell at this time of year. This pressure affects every part of Northamptonshire’s NHS and social care services, and that’s why NHCP’s urgent and emergency care team is taking action to plan for the demands of the winter ahead.

This time last year we set out a series of positive actions to tackle the winter challenge (you can read more about this here) and ensure more people can access the care they need in the right place at the right time. This year, NHCP’s urgent and emergency care ‘pathways’ group is building on this good work by launching a new delivery plan setting out the key areas of focus for winter 2019/20.

These include:

• Direct booking of GP appointments through 111 – this winter, NHS 111 call handlers will be able to directly book people into appointments with Northamptonshire GPs in cases where this is appropriate.

• Reviewing 111 referrals to A&E – when callers seeking medical advice are directed to visit an emergency department by NHS 111, each case will be independently reviewed by a clinician within 30 minutes of the call to ensure that the most appropriate pathway to meet the patient’s need is identified. In cases where the right care and support for their needs is not A&E, the patient is safely redirected to the more appropriate service.

• Promoting alternative options for ambulance crews – East Midlands Ambulance Service will be helping patients to safely and directly access the right service in cases where taking them to A&E isn’t the best option for their needs. This could include mental health services, specialist clinics for particular conditions or care that’s available in the community.

• Rapid Response Team for falls – a new team staffed by professionals from across Northamptonshire’s health and care services will be available to provide a rapid and specialised response for frail older people who suffer falls at home or in a care home.

• Same-day emergency care – Kettering and Northampton General Hospitals are both developing services to ensure people who need emergency care for particular conditions can be rapidly assessed, diagnosed and treated without having to be admitted to hospital overnight (where it is clinically safe to do so).

The work outlined above will be supported by a communications campaign to raise awareness of services available locally for health and care needs over winter and to support people to choose well, stay well and live well.

To find out more about NHCP’s Urgent and Emergency Care Pathways Delivery Plan for winter 2019/20, please email bhavnagosai@nhs.net.

This work responds to the ‘Information’ category (co-ordinating care) of your Big Ideas