Review of King’s Lynn A&E services suggested

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In the week the labour leader cited issues surrounding access to Lynn’s A&E as proof the NHS is on its knees, a review of it has been published.

Healthwatch Norfolk has suggested service providers should review and improve information on the most appropriate services for people to access.

In addition, it suggests a feasibility study over the provision of a Primary Care Centre – a centre for people who need urgent care but not necessarily access to hospital specialists.

It said a review is also needed of out-of-hours services currently available.

In Prime Minister’s question time this week, Ed Miliband referred to Scunthorpe, Middlesborough and Lynn, where, he said, patients had been told not to turn up to the hospital, unless it was essential.

In October, the QEH had to cancel operations because of high demand on beds and admitted waiting times in A&E had been longer than desired.

Mr Miliband said: “A and Es including Scunthorpe, Middlesbrough and King’s Lynn are telling patients not to turn up.

“We have seen report after report of patients waiting hours for ambulances.

“Does this represent more than some isolated incidents, and actually show an NHS in England at breaking point?”

David Cameron said the figures showed that the NHS was “under pressure”.

He said: “Last week, 429,000 people presented at accident and emergency units across England, which is 3,000 more patients every day than under the previous Government.

“What has happened is a big increase in accident and emergency admissions.”

He added: “The key thing is what we are going to do to respond to these problems in A and E.

“We are putting £700 million more into the NHS this year, and we are able to do that only because we have a strong and growing economy.“

In September, the QEH was deemed to need to continue to be in special measures, with A&E cited as requiring improvement.

The Healthwatch Norfolk report was the conclusion of a study where researchers spoke to 556 patients to ask why and when they accessed A&E at the QEH and when they used other community-based services such as GPs or pharmacies.

Alex Stewart, Healthwatch Norfolk chief executive, said: “This is a really important area of care that we need to get right.

“There is general agreement that sometimes it is better and cheaper to provide services away from acute hospitals but we need to do more to make that a reality.

“Some of the things the report recommends are expensive to do and may take time but others, like providing better information about alternatives to acute hospitals are much easier to achieve.

“We know that lots of people in West Norfolk and across the county are doing important work on this but our report highlights some of the patient experiences that need to inform how we reduce the pressures on A&E departments and our acute hospitals.

“We think it’s a valuable contribution.”