GPs call for greater powers when referring patients to wards

Declan McAteer Posted by
Monday, March 26th, 2012

Representatives from the British Medical Association have this week expressed frustration at having to go through A&E when referring acutely ill patients to wards. Doctors claim that giving GPs more powers to admit patients to hospitals would reduce A&E waiting times.

Health Minister Edwin Poots last week set up an action group designed to examine potential ways to shorten waiting times in Accident & Emergency. The issue has been given particular attention following the death of a man in the Royal Victoria’s A&E in Belfast. The man died while waiting on a trolley in the hospital.

Speaking at a recent British Medical Association conference Newry GP Dr Arnie McDowell said, “Overflowing A&E departments could be reduced by allowing GPs to assess acutely ill patients in the community as they have successfully done for many years, to decide whether or not they need admission to hospital.”

Mr Poots has said he wanted 95% of A%E patients in Northern Ireland to be seen to within four hours, a time scale which currently sees 82% of patients seen to. The help reach this target, the action group will aim to improve discharge procedures, with nurses given more powers to send patients home. It will also look at a number of issues linked to waiting times.

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