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NHS and DH deny there are plans to ban some patients from A&E

The Department of Health strongly denies a claim that patients could be turned away from EDs if they have no referral.
A&E sign

The Department of Health has strongly denied a claim that patients could be turned away from emergency department (EDs) if they do not have a referral.

NHS England national adviser for integrated urgent care Helen Thomas had told a conference audience that the NHS 'may well' pilot a policy of stopping patients from presenting to EDs without first seeking advice elsewhere. But both NHS England and the Department of Health say there are no any plans to pilot such a practice.

Care for everyone in need

An NHS England spokesperson said: 'It is wrong to suggest or imply the NHS will do anything other than continue to provide A&E care for all patients who need it, nor are there any plans to prevent patients from visiting A&Es alongside the other options now available for non-urgent care.'

A Department of Health spokesperson added: 'There are absolutely

The Department of Health has strongly denied a claim that patients could be turned away from emergency department (EDs) if they do not have a referral.

NHS England national adviser for integrated urgent care Helen Thomas had told a conference audience that the NHS 'may well' pilot a policy of stopping patients from presenting to EDs without first seeking advice elsewhere. But both NHS England and the Department of Health say there are no any plans to pilot such a practice.

Care for everyone in need

An NHS England spokesperson said: 'It is wrong to suggest or imply the NHS will do anything other than continue to provide A&E care for all patients who need it, nor are there any plans to prevent patients from visiting A&Es alongside the other options now available for non-urgent care.'

A Department of Health spokesperson added: 'There are absolutely no plans to pilot this approach.'

'Talk before you walk'

Speaking at the Urgent Health UK conference in Solihull last week, and recorded by Pulse magazine, Dr Thomas said: 'Jeremy Hunt has mentioned to some of my colleagues that maybe we should have a "talk before you walk" and we may well pilot that.

'I think it's been done in other countries, where they have said to people, "you can't come into ED until you have talked on the phone" or you have to have a docket that you're given having talked on the phone, that you do need to come to ED.

Pilot scheme would be 'interesting'

'I think that's politically quite a hot potato but there are places where they have said they are willing to pilot it. And if we could pilot it in just one area we would get some really interesting information.'

She said that of 100 patients who go to A&E, only 20 have called 111 beforehand.

'With that other 80, there is an opportunity there. Some of them will need ED but there is an awful lot that won't.'

According to NHS Digital, 37% of people going to A&E are discharged with no follow-up needed, while 20% are discharged to their GP.


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