Greater Manchester rolls out integrated urgent care tool

Advanced’s triaging solution will alleviate pressure on A&E departments and reduce waiting times

A&E departments across Greater Manchester are coming together to use an integrated urgent care platform which will reduce waiting times and ensure patients are quickly triaged to the most-appropriate care.

This latest move comes at a critical time when A&E departments in the region are struggling to cope with the rise in COVID-19 admissions and patients are waiting hours for a bed.

“By triaging patients before they walk into the hospital, A&E staff are less likely to be overstretched, which is critical as the country prepares for another winter crisis exacerbated by rising COVID-19 admissions

The Greater Manchester Urgent Primary Care Alliance, the urgent care partner for the region, is leading the rollout of Odyssey, a clinical decision support solution from software provider, Advanced, to reduce pressure on emergency departments across 10 NHS trusts and ensure patients calling 111 or visiting A&E are triaged in the same way.

Odyssey is a tried-and-tested triage tool which, in 2018, was implemented by Greater Manchester’s Clinical Assessment Service (CAS) to triage category three and four calls.

It will now mean that, before patients visit an A&E department in Greater Manchester, they will be triaged beforehand by telephone.

Staff will be able to prioritise patients with the most-urgent care needs and redirect any less-urgent patients to more-appropriate services such as their GP practice, out-of-hours centres, mental health services, or self care.

Patients who call 111 and are triaged to A&E will be offered an appointment or appointment slot, which will significantly reduce the number of people sitting in waiting rooms.

The implementation of an integrated urgent care solution couldn’t come at a more-critical time

Dr David Ratcliffe, clinical lead for urgent care at Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership, said: “True integration of urgent and emergency care for patients in Greater Manchester is based upon the principles of equity and shared standards.

“Operationally, the ability to organise care for patients based on a single digital system for appointments, consultation and referral is an absolutely-key component.”

Dr Zahid Chauhan OBE, chief clinical lead at Greater Manchester Urgent Primary Care Alliance, adds: “By triaging patients before they walk into the hospital, A&E staff are less likely to be overstretched, which is critical as the country prepares for another winter crisis exacerbated by rising COVID-19 admissions.

“Through Advanced’s system, we will be able to bring patients to the right place and ensure they get the right treatment, fast.

“It’s a much-more-integrated and collaborative approach so all patients across Greater Manchester will receive the same patient journey.”

The latest initiative follows the success of a 90-day pilot which saw the North West Ambulance Service’s low-acuity calls to 999 passed to the Greater Manchester Urgent Primary Care Alliance, which used Advanced’s clinical patient management software, Adastra, to deliver a local integrated urgent care response.

It saved the ambulance service hundreds of ambulance hours per week, while also expediting thousands of patient journeys; cut down conveyance to A&E; and facilitated care closer to patients’ homes.

Quite clearly, the NHS is overstretched, which is why we are now seeing a shift in thinking that A&E is a drop-in venue open to all to something that patients are triaged to

Now, with the combination of Advanced’s Odyssey and Adastra solutions integrated and used across all 111, 999, and A&E services in Greater Manchester; patients will receive consistent and faster care, regardless of which service provider they are triaged to, which will consequently reduce pressure on NHS services and save money.

“The implementation of an integrated urgent care solution couldn’t come at a more-critical time,” said Ric Thompson, managing director for health and care at Advanced.

“Earlier this month, the North West Ambulance Service declared a major incident due to a surge in calls to 111 and 999 which resulted in delays and queues at A&E departments.

“Quite clearly, the NHS is overstretched, which is why we are now seeing a shift in thinking that A&E is a drop-in venue open to all to something that patients are triaged to.

“Already, we have seen the NHS develop a 111 First programme to minimise overcrowding in A&E in light of COVID-19.

“Now, A&E departments are ramping up support ahead of winter so they can avoid the crisis we’ve sadly seen in previous years.”

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