Scottish Government releases new guidance for A&E departments

The Scottish Government has published new guidance for emergency department teams, with an aim to improve consistency across the country and ensure people are seen in the right care setting.

Developed in response to requests from NHS health boards in Scotland, the guidance comes as the number of people self-referring to hospital emergency departments is returning to pre-COVID levels.

The new guidance draws from experiences at NHS Tayside and NHS Grampian and has so far been implemented at NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, who have reported positive results on reducing pressure on A&E departments.

Humza Yousaf, Health Secretary, said: “It is widely recognised that more people could be better seen away from hospital and closer to home by a more appropriate care provider such as a pharmacy or GP practice or indeed, managed with self-care guidance. 

“As part of the NHS Recovery Plan we have invested £27 million towards the Redesign of Urgent Care to ensure people receive the right care, at the right place. This guidance will form part of this work and will help our healthcare staff safely signpost people to care more appropriate to the their need in the right place and at the right time for their condition.

“By adopting a consistent approach across Scotland, we can reduce delays in assessment and treatment, prevent overcrowding in emergency departments and ultimately release doctors to deliver emergency care to those who really need it.”

Dr Alison White, Emergency Medicine Clinical Lead for NHS Tayside, added: “NHS Tayside has had a redirection policy since 1998 as a long-term improvement to our service.

“This provides people with better care than could be provided by Emergency Department staff. It also ensures specialist emergency medicine skills are directed towards those who need us such as people who have suffered a stroke, significant injury or heart attack, so care is delivered in a timely manner.”

The guidance can be read in full here.