Smartphone app aims to ease pressure on hospital A&E

Bicester Advertiser: The John Radcliffe Hospital The John Radcliffe Hospital

A SMARTPHONE app is the latest idea by health chiefs to get residents to choose the right NHS service and ease pressure on accident and emergency.

Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group has launched a free app for Apple and Android devices to give health advice.

Choose Well Oxfordshire uses GPS technology to find the nearest services like GPs and provides contact details and opening times.

The move is part of a long-running county NHS campaign to ensure people go to the right services as demand rises across the health service.

A key pressure point is hospital A&E at Oxford’s John Radcliffe and Banbury’s Horton General Hospital.

These should be for only the most severe emergencies but often is attended by those who could be treated by other NHS services.

Rising demand means the county is missing a waiting time target.

The Government says 95 per cent should be discharged, admitted or transferred within four hours of arrival.

But county hospitals failed this in 2013/14 and figures for the week ending Sunday, June 1, show 89.1 per cent were seen in this time, 254 out of 2,327.

Just 696 were the most serious emergency admissions and leaders have said other cases could be seen by other services.

And planned hospital admissions that needed an overnight stay rose from 22,312 in 2012/13 to 24,208 in 2013/14.

Experts have said Oxfordshire has a high proportion of older people because of its relative affluence and are at more risk of complex conditions.

The app asks people to choose self-care, pharmacy, GP, NHS 111, minor injury units or A&E 999 and then provides advice and local information.

It also includes a quiz to test knowledge of which is the right service for certain conditions and injuries.

The Choose Well campaign has previously included posters and information at oxfordshireccg.nhs.uk.

An OCCG spokesman said: “One aim of the app is to ensure that when people do go to A&E it is only for a genuine accident or emergency such as a heart attack or serious injury.”

Clincial chairman Dr Joe McManners added: “This is a very effective and easy to use app which advises people on the best health services to use and it then shows exactly where the service is.

“It is a great asset for anyone who is ill or injured and unsure of the best treatment and where to get it.”

The app is compatible with iOS Supported Devices, those using iOS 5.1 and above, including the iPhone 3GS, and first generation iPads.

Android supported devices running 2.2 and above that has a processor supporting ARMv7 can use the app.

It will not run on Windows phones, Kindles or other technology.

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