NHS ‘will urge A&E patients to book urgent slots’ in bid to stop overcrowding

Patients will be urged to call ahead before heading to A&E (Image: Getty Images/Science Photo Library RF)

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A new hospital shakeup will see patients urged to call ahead to book "urgent" slots at A&E, it is claimed.

Next week the NHS will reportedly call on the public to ring 111 ahead of non-life threatening hospital visits.

A TV campaign will urge patients to book an appointment in a desperate bid to stop the spread of Covid-19 in crowded waiting rooms, The Telegraph reports.

Health service bosses say the move will ensure that those with "urgent but not life-threatening" conditions will be seen faster.

It follows similar schemes run in 27 areas across the country since the summer.

Backers say the move will mean patients get seen faster
(Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

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In July the Mirror reported that Pauline Philip, national director of urgent and emergency care, said the plan is to introduce a “different social norm”.

She added: “People traditionally have accessed emergency care by turning up in an emergency department and now we’re saying there are better ways of doing this.”

But not all medics are in favour, with some saying more work needs to be done to show the idea would be effective.

The government is set to bring in the move in time for winter
(Image: Getty Images/Cultura RF)

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Dr Chris Moulton, a former vice-president of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, said: "The last thing when you are in an emergency is to make a phone call – if you've chopped your finger off, you don't want to phone before you go."

But NHS medical director Professor Stephen Powis, the NHS national medical director, said: "Giving patients who are not emergency cases the option of booking a prompt appointment, as well as the option of turning up, can help give the public the confidence to come forward for care."

He said it would be easier to stick to social distancing rules if the move goes ahead.

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