‘Inappropriate attendance at A&E still a problem’

Charlotte Bonsor with members of the PPG
Charlotte Bonsor with members of the PPG

Too many people are flocking to are flocking to overstretched A&E wards while not enough are taking up out-of-hours GP services, according a report by a local health watchdog.

The Leighton Buzzard Patient Participation Group (PPG) has released its first report highlighting observations made since its founding in April 2013.

Chief among those is a worry that too many people are using A&E resources due to a lack of knowledge about alternative healthcare options, such as out-of-hours GP services.

Group chairman Charlotte Bonsor said: “Out-of-hours provision and inappropriate attendance at A&E still remain an issue for the town from our research findings.

“We believe a key reason is that communication about the out-of-hours service and how to access urgent healthcare out of surgery hours is poor.”

Members of the group have attended meetings with private company CareUK – who provide out-of-hours GP services to the town’s four health centres – in order to discuss how communication can be improved.

The report said: “Patients are becoming confused with the constant changes with NHS provision.

“The number of agencies involved in out-of-hours provision is confusing, and the group felt that the patient does not need to know the intracacies of the process – just that the service is available and how to access it.”

Concern was also raised about patients presenting themselves at A&E during GP surgery hours and at times out-of-hours provision is in place.

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