With the winter season on the doorsteps pressures on A&E’s around the country are set to be increasing even further. This is a re-occurring theme and every government has been struggling to address this adequately. The preferred approach to tackle this issue would be to divert unplanned A&E visits to primary care service. Under the Sláintecare programme this is already envisaged by focusing on the need to shift away from the current hospital-centric model of delivering health care to a community based service for primary and social care. Recent studies looked at aspects of primary care access that impact or would be beneficial for diverting A&E visits.
- One of those aspects is the proximity to primary care services. This takes into account travel and time costs patients incur seeking unplanned treatment.
- The next is opening hours for primary care service in the sense of extended opening hours in the evening and the weekends.
- There is also evidence that being able seek treatment without registering or pre-booking has a strong influence on patients’ preferences.
- Another factor is eligibility or being able to substitute service with the distinction for medial card holders and private patients.
None of these come as a surprise and reflect higher expectation for delivering a more patients centric health care system. It will be import for policymakers to look at this in the context of truly delivering a more integrated model of care.