Patients arriving at the emergency department walk-in entrance are now being asked to use one of three tablets to answer a series of questions which will then advise them whether they need to be there or should go elsewhere.
The system is being piloted by Chesterfield Royal Hospital in response to rising patient numbers and will see people offered alternatives, such as booking a GP appointment or managing their condition at home, should it be deemed they are not in need of emergency care.
Assistants are on hand to help people with the new process, which is not intended for use by those who are pregnant, under the age of 16, or require immediate medical attention.
Katherine Lendrum, consultant in emergency medicine at Chesterfield Royal Hospital, said: “It is without a doubt that anyone needing emergency medical attention should come to ED straight away. However, as everyone knows, all emergency departments around the country are incredibly busy and it is essential that we quickly see those people who need our care the most.
“We have therefore introduced our new self-service tool to help ensure we deal with everyone appropriately on their arrival. Anyone who needs urgent care should always visit NHS 111 online first to be directed to the most appropriate service. If they do not, our self-service system will ask a series of questions about an individual’s symptoms then will advise the most appropriate and best care for them.
“It's vital that our emergency department is able to concentrate on the patients who are really unwell and the new self-service system will help support this. I would urge people to please think carefully before attending ED – please use NHS 111 online and carefully consider if attending an ED is really necessary and the best option for you.”
Chesterfield Royal Hospital is one of several hospitals trialling the technology nationally in partnership with NHS Digital.
It will be available from 10am until 10pm, seven days a week.
For immediate life-threatening emergencies always call 999.