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Majority of people think patients often use A&E ‘unnecessarily’

Over half of the population say they find it hard to get a GP appointment.

Laura Townsend

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Patients say they prefer A&Es departments as they can get tests done quickly.

New research shows that 86% of people believe too many patients often use A&E services unnecessarily.

The most recent British Social Attitudes Survey, carried out by The National Centre for Social Research and funded by the National Institute for Health Research, is the first ever large-scale research into attitudes towards emergency care conducted.

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Alicia O’Cathain, Director of the Medical Care Research Unit at the University of Sheffield, said: “Today’s findings illustrate that while the majority of the British population are satisfied with A&E services, there are marked differences in attitudes and understanding between different social groups when it comes to views on access and confidence in A&Es and GPs.”

Patients prefer ‘on-demand’ services.

With 94% for people aged 65 to 74 years old and 79% of those aged 18 to 24 years believing A&Es are overused, the research explores the possible reasons why.

It shows that over half of the population find it hard to get a GP appointment and nearly 40% said they prefered accessing ‘on demand’ health services where they are not required to make an appointment.

It also showed that 17% of all Brits prefer A&Es to GPs because they can get tests done quickly.

Confidence in primary care services could also be a contributing factory with patients living in the most deprived areas and 20% of parents with a child aged under 5 said they don’t have much faith in GPs.

Forced to go where the lights are on.

In response to the survey, Patricia Marquis, Royal College of Nursing Director for England said: “A&E departments across the country are crammed because people are forced to go where the lights are on when they can’t get the treatment they need elsewhere.”

”After the recent rhetoric around access to GPs and other services it must quickly become a reality. Staffing levels aren’t improving and yet demand is continuing to rise,” Marquis commented.

Adding; “This survey demonstrates the need for proper concerted investment across the whole of health and care services and accountability for safe staffing levels set in law.”

Acute Medicine

Hospital visitors and volunteers help to reduce nursing workloads, survey finds

Nurses believe a lack of visitors is often detrimental to a patients’ health and speed of recovery.

Chloe Dawson

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Patient with visitor in hospitla bed

Two in five hospital patients get no visitors and require additional support from the nursing team.

Nurses working in acute hospitals feel that patients without visitors require additional support from the nursing team, according to a survey by the Royal Voluntary Service (RVS).

The survey also revealed that nurses believe a lack of visitors is often detrimental to a patients’ health and speed of recovery in a number of ways. These include; they are less likely to be mobile (43%), less likely to be stimulated through conversation (56%) and less likely to follow medical advice.

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It is also estimated that around 37% are more likely to have a longer stay in hospital.

The RVS states that volunteers can step in and play a “vital role” in helping to reduce the nursing workload and freeing up staff for clinical care.

Over half of the NHS nurses questioned said a volunteer presence on ward was very important and that volunteers could help with patient care in a variety of ways. In particular, they referenced; providing non-medical support and assisting at mealtimes.

Double the number of volunteers in the next ten years.

Previous research published in a Kings Fund report also found strong support for volunteering among frontline staff.

With approximately 40,000 unfilled nursing vacancies throughout the NHS in England, volunteers are becoming more important to ensure patient receive care in a timely manner.

Following the NHS Long Term plan asking hospitals to double their volunteers in the next ten years and the recognition of the help they can provide by the NHS nursing team, RVS is calling on more hospitals to make the most of volunteers to improve patient health.

Sam Ward, Director of Commissioned Services for the RVS, said; “With results showing two-fifths of patients may not see a visitor during their hospital stay, it is clear that more is needed to be done to support them.

“Volunteers offer a professional support service, encouraging mental stimulation, physical activity, and more that can play a significant role in both mental and physical recovery.

“It is vital that hospitals work together with volunteer service providers to make sure that patients across the country are able to access this support.”

 

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Acute Medicine

‘Harmful’ prescription charges for asthma medication should be scrapped, warn nurses

The majority of nurses want ‘harmful’ prescription charges for people with asthma to be scrapped.

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Asthma Medication Inhaler Nebuliser

Patients are at risk of life-threatening asthma attacks simply because they can’t afford their medication.

Hundreds of nurses called for ‘harmful’ prescription costs for people with asthma to be scrapped after seeing patients have an asthma attack or need emergency treatment because of the high cost of prescriptions.

A report published today by Asthma UK in collaboration with The Royal College of Nursing and Association of Respiratory Nurse Specialists, includes findings from a survey of more than 600 nurses in the UK as well as 150 other healthcare professionals including doctors, pharmacists, and paramedics.

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The research highlights the harmful impact prescription charges are having on people with asthma, putting them at risk of life-threatening asthma attacks because they can’t afford their medication.

Nurses reported patients borrowing inhalers from their friends, relatives or even their own children because they couldn’t afford to buy their own – putting them at risk of taking the wrong medication, or the wrong dose.

‘An outdated and unfair policy’.

One healthcare professional told Asthma UK that she had found the money herself to pay for her patient’s prescription because she was worried about them being unable to afford their life-saving medication.

A majority of nurses surveyed (92%) want ‘harmful’ prescription charges for people with asthma to be scrapped.

Samantha Walker, Director of Research and Policy at Asthma UK and a qualified nurse, said:“It’s really worrying that nurses who are working so hard to help their patients stay well are seeing people with asthma suffer because of an outdated and unfair policy. It is high time the Government took action and urgently reviewed asthma prescription charges so that people with asthma aren’t put at risk of avoidable but potentially life-threatening asthma attacks. No one should have to pay to breathe.”

‘Only making their condition worse’.

Wendy Preston, Head of Nursing Practice at the Royal College of Nursing said: “It cannot be acceptable that some people with long-term conditions are missing out on their vital medication because they cannot afford it.

“Nurses see the impact of this every day of the week and know what happens when people do not take their vital medication.

“This will only make their condition worse and they will end up needing further treatment adding additional pressure the health and care system.

“It is time that there is equity with other long-term conditions such as diabetes where prescription charges are exempt.”

Asthma UK is urging people with asthma, nurses and other healthcare professionals to join its Stop Unfair Asthma Prescription Charges campaign and sign its petition to end prescription charges.

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