Successful project reduces Sandwell and West Birmingham patients being taken to emergency departments

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An innovative project aimed at reducing the pressure on local emergency departments has been achieving significant success.

The *5 project enables West Midlands Ambulance Service paramedics to call a dedicated number to seek clinical advice on the best care for patients. The project has reduced the number of patients who are taken in an ambulance to an emergency department (ED) and has helped to reduce the pressure on EDs across the region.

The NHS 111 clinical assessment service (CAS) includes GPs, nurses, paramedics and emergency dentists who can provide advice to paramedics on the best service to meet their patient’s needs if they don’t think they need to be taken to hospital. CAS clinicians are also able to book appointments for patients who they have assessed as needing a face-to-face consultation.

The project, which was rolled out by the West Midlands Integrated Urgent and Emergency Care Alliance between November 2018 and February this year has already seen a large number of calls resulting in patients not being taken to ED but accessing a variety of other services instead (about 90% overall.)

Rachael Ellis, Chief Officer, NHS Sandwell and West Birmingham CCG and lead on the West Midlands Integrated Urgent and Emergency Care Alliance commented:
“I am really pleased at the success of the *5 service across the West Midlands and the impact this is having on reducing pressure on our emergency departments. The NHS 111 *5 service also improves patient experience as they receive the right advice and treatment at the most appropriate time in the most appropriate location according to their needs.”

In November 2016, the first Integrated Urgent Care Service in the country was launched on behalf of NHS Sandwell and West Birmingham CCG and 15 other CCGs in the West Midlands. This service combines NHS 111 access and out-of-hours GP services to improve outcomes and patient experience while also alleviating pressures on the NHS.