Kent

Kent County Council claims too many people visit A&E

One in five patients arriving at Kent's A&E departments should not be there, according to Kent County Council.

In adraft reportby the Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee, it claims millions of pounds are being wasted as too few people use walk-in centres and minor injury units.

A&E attendances cost the NHS in Kent just under £400m.

Medway Hospital's medical director, Gray Smith-Laing, said patients still need to get used to the alternatives.

The report found the majority of people attending A&E go there directly, without being referred by a GP or taken by ambulance.

He said: "We undoubtedly have a proportion of patients who probably do not need to attend the A&E department, this might be up to one in five patients.

'Confusion'

"We will indeed treat them, we may try and persuade them to go elsewhere but basically if they come to us they will be treated.

"I think it's the problem of patients getting used to the diversity of facilities that are available. The A&E department has been there since time immemorial, it was always the place to be treated."

There are 10 minor injury units and three walk-in centres across Kent and Medway.

The report states that their levels of use vary, with the Folkestone walk-in centre seeing 1,000 patients each month and the minor injuries unit in Faversham seeing just 100.

Councillor Dan Daley, who is a member of the Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee on Kent County Council, said: "We're complaining in our report that the confusion has been brought about by not concentrating the message and getting it out to the public in an understandable method.

"Lack of awareness or confusion around the alternatives to A&E mean that actually turning to A&E is often the simplest and most rational choice, even when it is not the most appropriate one."

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