NHS Lothian launches appointment system for urgent injuries

NHS Lothian has launched a new appointment-based system for patients with urgent injuries in a bid to reduce waiting times and help ease pressures in hospital and community health care settings.

Patients with strains, sprains, suspected broken bones, wounds, burns, stings and bites are now being asked to call NHS 24 on 111 to make an appointment with an expert in one of Lothian’s Minor Injuries Units (MIU). The new plan means that patients will make an appointment to be given the “Right Care in the Right Place” rather than walk in and spend time sitting in busy hospital waiting rooms.

Gillian McAuley, acute nurse director, NHS Lothian, said: “Our expert MIU teams treat a huge range of urgent injuries, especially some that might be surprising - they treat broken bones, burns, sprains and painful wounds.”

She added: “The NHS is under some of the most severe pressure it has ever endured and our staff are facing challenges across acute and community settings.

“As result, waiting times for patients have increased, especially in our Emergency Departments. We know that some of those patients waiting in A&E could be seen sooner in our MIUs. We want patients to get the Right Care in the Right Place which in turn will help to reduce the pressures at our A&E or ‘front door’, as we call it.

“By separating patients with urgent injuries and those in an emergency, we can make sure that everyone can continue to access high quality, patient-centred care when they need it most.

“If you think you need to visit A&E, but it's not a critical emergency , call NHS 24 on 111 first, day or night.”

When patients in Lothian call 111, a trained advisor will now take all of the details and refer them for a triage assessment with a clinical coordinator from NHS Lothian.

Teenager Madison Maben was among the first patients to use the pan-Lothian appointment system.

The patient will then be given a treatment slot for later that day or the following day at one of three MIUs – St John’s Hospital, Livingston, the Western General Hospital or the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh.

Consultations are carried out via video call or during a face-to-face appointment in the MIU depending on the needs of the patient.

The scheduling system was first piloted in the MIU at St John’s Hospital, in Livingston last year before it was rolled out to the other units in the Western General Hospital and the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh.