Portsmouth hospital A&E appointments trial used by 200 patients

Image copyright
PA Media

Image caption

Queen Alexandra Hospital in Portsmouth started the trial in June

A trial of prebooked A&E appointments has seen more than 200 patients use the system in its first week.

The pilot at Queen Alexandra Hospital in Portsmouth sees NHS 111 call handlers book time slots for patients who have been advised to go to A&E but are not in a medical emergency.

The trial is aimed at cutting both wait times and the risk of coronavirus spreading in hospital waiting rooms.

The hospital’s chief executive called it a “really exciting development.”

The new initiative, launched on 30 June, allows patients to book through NHS 111, but people who arrive without contacting the helpline will still receive treatment as usual.

Speaking at a meeting of Portsmouth City Council’s health overview and scrutiny panel, Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust chief executive Mark Cubbon said the optional booking system “ensured appropriate patients can access treatment and the right services”.

“The booking appointment system already had between 20 and 30 patients a day through 111,” he said.

“Over the next couple of weeks we will ramp up our messaging to the local community about how best to access some some of these services.”

Mr Cubbon also said that attendance rates at A&E were starting to “return to normal” after a drop during the lockdown, the Local Democracy Reporting Service said.

A hospital spokeswoman said about 300 people were currently attending the emergency department each day, with about half arriving by ambulance.

Panel member Philip Raffaelli, from Gosport Borough Council, said the system was a “great opportunity”.

“The vast majority of people are happy, but if we get to the point where there is a significant change we would need a consultation,” he added,

Follow BBC South on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. Send your story ideas to