Action needed now to relieve Queen’s Hospital A&E pressures

Queen's Hospital

Queen's Hospital - Credit: Archant

A health watchdog fears a plan to help relieve mounting pressures on Queen’s Hospital won’t come soon enough.

Havering’s Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is developing a five-year strategy to transform day-to-day care.

The purpose of the review is to find the best way to ensure people visit walk-in centres or their GP, rather than A&E.

But health advisers are worried about the time it will take to change habits and how long the new policy will take to be implemented.

Speaking at Havering Council’s Health and Wellbeing Board meeting last Wednesday, Anne-Marie Dean, of Healthwatch Havering, said the focus of the strategy “felt too wide” and “not robust enough”.

She said: “There are some fantastic ideas in this strategy, but we need to identify what is actually going to happen and see something that we can all understand so we can tackle challenges that lie ahead.”

Mrs Dean believes changes to the way healthcare is delivered could take two and a half years – time Queen’s “does not have” with the increasing pressure the A&E department faces.

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In March, emergency departments at Queen’s and King George hospitals saw record attendances.

March 14 saw a spike in demand with 830 people requesting emergency treatment at the hospitals in Romford and Goodmayes.

The proposal hopes that GPs in Havering will collaborate to best use the resources available and provide more choice on where to go for care.

Isobel Cattermole, deputy chief executive for children, adults and housing at Havering Council, said information on any changes would need to be made readily available.

She said: “People will go to A&E first as that is the only place they know they can guarantee to be seen.

“There is a job to be done about the culture change of people’s behaviour and we do need to make sure information on where to go is readily available.”

Mrs Cattermole revealed that the council’s chief executive did not know where her local walk-in centre was when she broke her arm and wondered how others can be expected to.

Tom Travers, chief financial officer for Havering CCG, agreed to report back in the autumn with an operational plan specific to Havering.