A&Es in 25 hospitals across England will receive an additional £150 million to expand and upgrade, ensuring they have the physical space to treat patients, manage patient flow and improve infection control.
This is in addition to the £300 million announced in August for 117 Trusts to upgrade their facilities. The funding will expand waiting areas and increase the number of treatment cubicles, helping boost A&E capacity by providing additional space and reducing overcrowding. Projects will be completed by the start of next year.
Alongside this, a new offer to patients is being piloted in Trusts across England, with NHS 111 being the first point of contact for accessing urgent medical care.
To ensure patients get the right care in the right place and avoid unnecessary visits to emergency departments, NHS 111 will build on its role during the pandemic to direct patients to the most clinically appropriate service, including emergency departments, an urgent treatment centre, a GP or mental health professional. Based on what works best during the pilots, this approach will be rolled out to all Trusts from December this year.
Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock says: “During the peak of the pandemic we saw millions of people using NHS 111 to get the best possible advice on COVID-19, and other urgent NHS services. These pilots will build on this and test whether we can deliver quicker access to the right care, provide a better service for the public and ensure our dedicated NHS staff aren’t overwhelmed.”
NHS 111 will also book appointments for patients with the appropriate service to cut out unnecessary queueing and ensure they get the right care first time. This will be safer and more convenient for patients as it will reduce the amount of time spent in waiting rooms. Patients with a life-threatening emergency should still dial 999 immediately.
Each year there are 14.4 million A&E attendances in England that arrive without referral by 111, a GP or in an ambulance, as well as 2.1 million attendances that don’t result in any admission or treatment. Reducing this unnecessary use of emergency departments will ease the pressure on the NHS this winter, help to reduce overcrowding, maintain social distancing and reduce transmission of COVID-19.
A public communications campaign ‘Help Us Help You’ will also launch later this year to direct people to the right NHS service.
Alongside this, NHS England has been exploring whether improvements could be made to emergency care performance measures as part of its ongoing clinically-led review, which has also considered how to accurately measure performance while the service meets the continuing challenges of COVID-19.
Before December, a consultation will be launched on standards to ensure they reflect modern emergency care and deliver what patients need. The existing standards remain in place and – if any updates are subsequently made – this will only be on the basis of strong evidence and after thorough consultation.
The 25 Trusts receiving a share of £150 million for A&E upgrades are:
Mid and South Essex NHS Foundation Trust at Southend Hospital
Bedfordshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust at Luton and Dunstable
East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust at Lister Hospital
Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust at King George Hospital
King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust at Denmark Hill
The Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust at Royal Shrewsbury Hospital
University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust at University Hospital Coventry
Worcester Acute Hospitals NHS Trust at Worcestershire Royal Hospital
United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust at Lincoln County Hospital
Northern Lincolnshire and Goole NHS Foundation Trust at Diana Princess of Wales Hospital and Scunthorpe General Hospital
York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust at York Hospital
Countess of Chester NHS Hospital Foundation Trust at Countess of Chester Main Site
Mid Cheshire Hospital NHS Foundation Trust at Leighton Hospital
East Lancashire Hospital NHS Trust at Royal Blackburn Hospital
Liverpool University Hospitals at Aintree Hospital
East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust at William Harvey Hospital and Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother Hospital
Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust at Stoke Mandeville
Ashford and St Peter’s Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust at St Peter’s Hospital Chertsey
Royal Devon & Exeter NHS Foundation Trust at Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital (Wonford)
Dorset County Hospital NHS Foundation Trust at Dorset County Hospital
Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust at Torbay Hospital & Newton Abbot Community Hospital
University Hospitals Bristol NHS Trust at Bristol Royal Infirmary
Great Western Hospital NHS Foundation Trust at Great Western Hospital