New NHS app to help cut A&E waiting times
Waiting in those never-ending queues at A&E could be a thing of the past, thanks to a new health app recently launched across south east London.
Health Help Now enables users in Lewisham to find the most appropriate local NHS service for them based on their symptoms and age group.
"It's often the case that people turn up at A&E because they're unsure of the other NHS services available across the borough that can provide more appropriate health advice and support" explains Dr Marc Rowland, local GP and Chair of NHS Lewisham CCG. "This could mean a long wait for treatment and additional pressure being placed on A&E departments – a particular concern over the winter period.
"The new app asks users to make a few simple choices based on their symptoms and age group, and provides a list of the nearest and most appropriate places for health help. Not only does this save time by avoiding unnecessary waits in A&E, but it also ensures that A&E staff can dedicate their time to treating real emergencies."
As well as identifying the closest and most appropriate NHS service, the app also provides useful information, such as service opening times and uses location-based technology to show distance.
The app was initially launched across north Kent in 2013, where two A&E departments saw attendances drop by 28 per cent and 10 per cent respectively over a one year period. The app has also been successfully launched across a number of other areas in south east England, including the London Borough of Richmond, where it was introduced by Richmond GP Alliance (RGPA).
"Ensuring people have the information they need to make the right decisions about their health and treatment options is crucial when it comes to planning and delivering local NHS services" continues Dr Rowland. "The app has been tested with a wide range of different groups, including young adults, parents of pre-school children, people with learning disabilities and those whose first language is not English, to ensure ease of use.
"93 per cent of people who have used Health Help Now in other areas rated it as useful, whilst 95 per cent said it was easy to use."
To access the web version of the app, visit www.healthhelpnow-nhs.net, or to download a version of the smartphone app, search for 'Health Help Now' in your Google or i-phone app store.