About urgent and emergency care

Across the NHS, staff work around the clock to deliver the best possible care to more patients than ever before, but it’s becoming increasingly difficult as demand continues to rise.

The current system is under increasing pressure so NHS England wants to improve the urgent and emergency care (UEC) system so patients get the right care in the right place, whenever they need it.

Its ambition is to transform urgent and emergency care to ensure it better serves those with serious or life threatening emergencies, as well as those with urgent care needs.

In November 2013 we published a review setting out our plans to join up A&E, GP out of hours, minor injuries clinics, ambulance services and NHS 111 so that patients know where they can get urgent help easily.

So, for people with urgent care needs we will provide a more responsive service closer to home.

This means a member of the public can ring NHS 111 and if necessary, speak to a clinician for advice and/ or be directly booked into an appointment with the service that is right for them; minimising disruption and inconvenience for patients and their families.

For people calling 999 we are working with the ambulance service to ensure that patients receive the most appropriate response, whether this is treatment advice given by phone, in person by ambulance staff, or by being taken to hospital.

Technology is changing and so is the way people access services and that’s why we are piloting NHS 111 online which will mean people can access urgent care services over the internet.

In the future, health records will also be available to clinicians however a patient accesses the health service, whether this is through NHS 111, by ambulance, their GP or A&E.

For those with more serious or life-threatening emergency care needs, changes to the current system mean that people will receive treatment in centres with the best expertise and facilities to maximise the chances of survival and good recovery.

 We are building on the existing trauma and specialist stroke networks, so that the five urgent specialist services will be delivered as part of a networked approach (these are emergency vascular, hyper acute stroke, major trauma, paediatric intensive care and STEMI heart attack). This means if a patient’s nearest hospital doesn’t have the required specialist service, it will be supported by an emergency specialist network which will ensure the patient receives a consistent standard of treatment, wherever they live, seven days a week.

Over the next three years we will continue to reform the urgent and emergency care system to ensure that we provide a responsive service that delivers the right care to patients, in the right place.

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