Parents abandon GPs and turn to A&E

There are a number of parents bypassing GPs and taking their children directly to A&E departments for medical treatment, says research. At the Nottingham’s Queen’s Medical Centre, attendance for 10 different common problems including rash and fever increased over 42% in the last decade. They blame the inability of accessing out of hours care by GPs.

An out of hours care strategy is being developed by government and it will deliver urgent, high quality care services 24 hours a day. Over the last ten years NHS’ way of providing care for common medical conditions at weekends and nights has changed.

There is no longer an obligation for GPs to provide out of hours care or give advice to parents worried about a child’s condition. Today there are a number of large private companies providing that service instead.  What is needed is additional integrated care instead of the expensive confusing system that currently exists.

President of the College of Emergency Medicine, John Heyworth, says this has caused confusion and at times made it harder for them to get access to good care. More and more are turning to the A&E departments and this trend has been recognized by the system with an increase of between 8 and 9% each year.

The study spanned a decade with the amount of people attending the emergency department for children at Queen’s being quite similar but those attending because of common medical conditions increased by over 42%.

In 2007/08 over 39,000 children were seen of which over 14,700 were for medical problems. Compared to just less than 39,000 in 1997 of which just over 10,000 had medical problems.

This was a fine example of the way services were organized and highlights its shortcomings. There needs to be integrated care instead of expensive and confusing care. The college says that one alternative is to locate GP service next to A&E departments for people that need a GP. While another study says most A&E departments in UK hospitals are ill-equipped to treat youngsters with head trauma injuries.