A number of NHS Trusts have gone live with WASP Software’s NHS111 first direct appointment booking service.
Part of the Government’s strategy to manage long waits in emergency departments is for patients who require urgent, unscheduled care to call NHS111 in order to be directed to the most appropriate service for treatment.
This may include an appointment in primary care, urgent treatment centre, same day emergency care or the emergency department at the local acute trust.
The Maidstone & Tunbridge Wells and Kent Community NHS Trusts have worked with the area’s NHS111 Provider, South-East Costal Ambulance Service (SECAmb) and WASP Software to deliver a direct appointment booking service.
Michael Brett, managing director at WASP Software, said: “The work we have been doing across Kent and Medway has been driven by the need to provide direct appointment booking into emergency services which have historically been unscheduled.
“Urgent and emergency care by their very nature are unscheduled incidents and so the challenge has been how best to manage the demand during these extraordinary times.
Rather than try to implement and/or upgrade each provider system, the Kent and Medway region chose to work with WASP Software which provides a system-agnostic scheduler that is able to sit in front of each site’s IT service and manage the DAB scheduling activity.
The WASP scheduler then publishes the appointment, patient details and referral information needed by the administration and clinical teams in the relevant provider departments.
Brett added: “The NHS is under huge pressure and the way urgent and emergency care is delivered has had to change. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, simply presenting at emergency departments and waiting for four hours in a crowded waiting room was considered unnecessarily stressful, but today this is simply not an option.
“Patients need to take responsibility, check to see if the condition is really an emergency or can be treated through some other service. If there is doubt, ring NHS111 first and, if a patient does need to be seen, they will be given an appointment and treated in the most appropriate service in the local area.
“It is anticipated that the pressure on emergency departments can be reduced by sending patients elsewhere to receive an improved service without the long waits. This then leaves the emergency department to focus on the more serious medical emergencies, safe in the knowledge the waiting room is not full of patients with minor injuries.”
Alder Hey Children’s Hospital and South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust have also gone live with the service.