Some people in Wales will be asked to phone first before going to A&E, the Welsh Government has announced.
The Welsh health minister Vaughan Gething said yesterday (21 July) a telephone triage service will be trialled at Cardiff and Vale University Health Board, as part of a new approach to delivering person-centred health and care services.
The emergency 999 service will not be affected by the changes.
In the last month as increasing numbers of people have sought treatment at emergency departments – a return to a ‘normal range’ of activity – some health boards in Wales have reported queues forming outside as a result of the reduced space inside departments to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
The Royal College of Emergency Medicine (RCEM) and the Royal College of Physicians have expressed concerns about the safety of people and staff if emergency departments become over-crowded.
RCEM has spoken of an urgent need to change from a service model with unlimited numbers of people attending emergency departments in an uncoordinated way, which can make it difficult to keep staff and patients safe.
Cardiff and Vale University Health Board’s pathfinder approach – the CAV 24/7 phone service – is designed to help people who want or need urgent care to access the right advice or treatment in the right place.
It will be launched next month.
‘People with life-threatening or serious conditions should continue to access services in the usual way but, with new physical distance measures in place, we need to better manage people with less severe conditions in their local communities or schedule urgent appointments to avoid over-crowding and queuing outside departments,’ said Mr Gething.
‘We do not want to see large families or large groups of people congregating in departments, so we can protect people who are at risk, vulnerable or have been shielding, but we also recognise the need to ensure people get the right service for their needs. This can often be delivered in the community.’