MOST patients seen in A&E are in the appropriate setting for their treatment according to the College of Emergency Medicine.
Research conducted by Candesic on behalf of the College found that 85 per cent of patients who visited A&E were there appropriately and that only 15 per cent could have been seen by a GP within the community without the need for emergency department assessment.
The research significantly challenges the often quoted figure of 40 per cent of patients attending A&E being discharged requiring no treatment. But the College points out that although the 15 per cent figure is significantly less it still equates to 2.1 million attendances and confirms the need for the establishment of co-located primary care centres to decongest emergency departments.
The study also found that of the 15 per cent of people who could be seen by a GP the largest sub-group were young children presenting with symptoms of minor illness. The group for whom redirection from A&E was least probable were the elderly.
The researchers estimated that 22 per cent of people in the study group could be appropriately managed by a GP working in the emergency department with access to the same resources. A further 63 per cent of attendees needed the skills of a specialist emergency medicine doctor and of those 28 per cent were admitted to hospital.
Dr Clifford Mann, President of the College of Emergency Medicine, said: "The fact that only 15 per cent of attendees at emergency departments could be safely redirected to a primary care clinician without the need for emergency department assessment is a statistic that must be heeded by those who wish to reconfigure services.
"Providing a more appropriate resource for the 2.1 million patients represented by this figure would substantially decongest emergency departments.
"Decongesting emergency departments is key to relieving the unprecedented levels of pressure placed upon them and improving patient care. This is one of the key principles outlined in our call for action – The 10 Priorities to solve the Emergency Medicine Crisis."