Polyclinics around £20 cheaper per visit than A&E

Posted on September 3, 2009. Filed under: News stories, Polyclinics |

Enfield Independent | News | 3 September 2009

SENDING patients to a polyclinic or community urgent care centre instead of A&E is could save £20 per visit, according to health bosses.

Enfield doctors refer more patients to A&E than anywhere else in London and 50 per cent of those visits could be dealt with in the community, patients at a meeting last night were told.

Dr Peter Barnes, medical director of NHS Enfield, said: “Every time someone goes to A&E whether it’s for an earache or something more serious a cash register rings up. Everytime someone goes to an A&E department it costs £55,” he said.

Speaking at a consultation about health services in Enfield, at Highlands School, Worlds End Lane, Winchmore Hill, the NHS Enfield’ associate director of primary care, Rob Lee, said it was vital to “repatriate” the money from hospital trusts back to the primary care trust.

Pressed for more information later director of strategy and performance, Hugh Wilson Jones, estimated that the same services could be provided in the community for between £35 and £45 pounds per visit, a clear saving.

He said: “When you’re talking about hundreds of thousands of patients the savings are quite considerable.”

But patients were not impressed with the PCT’s reasoning.

Angry patient Liz Henthorn said it was vital for her to be referred to see hospital specialists when her weight suddenly plummeted.

“Don’t I have the right to be referred to a hospital?” she demanded, “I have paid into this.”

Dr Barnes said serious cases would still be referred to hospitals but the PCT wanted to cut down on the number of people using A&E for minor injuries and conditions which could be treated in the community.

The news confirmed fears in many that the reconfiguration would make the fight to save Chase Farm’s A&E department futile.

Former ambulance driver, John Jewson, a member of the Save Chase Farm Hospital campaign group, said: “There’s no reason to keep an A&E open 24/7 at Chase Farm and have the PCT right next to it.”

Many pointed out that the vast majority of the PCT’s proposed centres would close at night.

More to follow from the meeting.

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