Health chiefs in Brighton and Hove have agreed that paramedics answering 999 calls should take fewer patients to hospital.
The board of the Brighton and Hove Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) agreed the move as part of its annual operating plan.
The board was told that about 60 per cent of patients who rang 999 were automatically but inappropriately taken to Accident and Emergency (A&E).
The plan says: “We will work with the South East Coast Ambulance Service and providers to substantially increase the number of patients managed in the community and help develop contractual incentives and penalties which support our desired activity and pathway changes.”
The plan also says: “A significant proportion of A&E attendees should be seen by other services or in other settings such as their GP practice.”
And it says: “We are including a 4 per cent reduction in A&E conversion rates in our contract with (Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust) and will exercise contract penalties where appropriate.”
The CCG chief operating officer Geraldine Hoban told the board meeting at Hove Town Hall: “It was one of our major programmes of work last year.
“We do know there is more work we can do.”
The CCG accountable officer Dr Christa Beesley said that paramedics were being given extra training, particularly in areas such as treating people with mental health problems.
She said that a GP was also working in the ambulance control room at busy times to provide support to paramedics.
The operating plan was agreed by the board which takes over from Brighton and Hove City Primary Care Trust (the PCT) at the end of the month.
The agreement was reached as Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust tries to reduce the number of patients coming to A&E at the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton.
The higher than expected number of patients in A&E has lengthened waiting times there and caused knock-on problems throughout the Royal Sussex.
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