People across Devon (including Plymouth) and Cornwall can now download a free app which gives them information about waiting and travel times for their local urgent NHS services.
The app, NHSquicker, shows up-to-date waiting times for local emergency departments (A&Es) and minor injuries units, based on the user’s location. It also shows live travel times to help people make informed decisions about where to go when they are in need of urgent treatment for a minor injury or illness.
People can also use NHSquicker to find information about less urgent NHS services, such as GPs, pharmacies, sexual health services, dentists and opticians.
NHSquicker is available for smartphones and tablets, on Apple and Android.
The app has been launched by the Health and Care IMPACT Network, a collaboration between the NHS across Devon and Cornwall and academics from the University of Exeter.
The launch comes at a time when doctors are urging people to consider using another urgent care service if the issue is not serious or life-threatening, rather than an emergency department, as hospitals become busier through the winter months.
Dr Nick Mathieu, consultant in emergency medicine and clinical director of the emergency department at Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust, said:
“This app will give people the information they need so they can make informed decisions about where to go for treatment. We hope this will improve things for patients, as they may be able to receive the care they need more quickly and perhaps closer to home than they realise.
“NHS services across England are busier than ever and we hope NHSquicker will increase awareness of the different options for treating minor injuries and illnesses. We hope this will contribute to reducing pressure on emergency departments, so they can focus on the most urgent cases.”
NHSquicker is an example of how the NHS is using data to improve people’s experience of health services.
Nic Harrison, data analyst at Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust, said:
“We collect a huge amount of data in the NHS to help us to monitor and improve the care we provide.
“This project was about using information that is already available in a new way which helps to improve the experience of our services and helps us to make sure NHS resources are focused where they are most needed.”
Dr Nav Mustafee, from the University of Exeter Business School and one of the co-founders of the IMPACT network, said:
“This app is useful for everyone, whether you are a parent or guardian with small children, a carer for a loved one or relative, or whether you are downloading it for yourself to keep for when you need it.
“Real-time waiting times are the first step in helping to bring up-to-date, appropriate information to people and the project team will continue to explore ways the app can be developed.”
Professor Adrian Harris, medical director and consultant emergency physician at the Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust, said: “It is great to see frontline teams working together with academic partners in such an innovative way to come up with solutions.
“What is more exciting is increasingly seeing these ideas being shared and applied by organisations across the wider STP area and beyond.”
To download the app, people can head to the app store on their device and search for ‘NHSquicker’.
MORE ABOUT THE APP
The information feed on the app is provided by Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust (NDHT), Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust, Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust (RCHT), Royal Devon & Exeter NHS Foundation Trust (RD&E), South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT), Torbay & South Devon NHS Foundation Trust (TSDFT) and Claremont Medical Practice.
The app can also be viewed in a web browser at www.nhsquicker.co.uk
MORE ABOUT THE IMPACT NETWORK
Academics from the University of Exeter Business School and health and care professionals from Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust co-founded the Health and Care IMPACT Network (Information, Modelling, Predication and evaluation to inform ACTion). The network is a collaboration between health and care organisations and universities in the South West.
The network aims to improve delivery of health and care in front-line services through research, support and sharing knowledge. The network continues to grow rapidly with more health and care organisations joining, as well as support from academic and research partners including PenCLARHC, South West Academic Health Science Network (SWAHSN) and Torbay Medical Research Fund.
The funding for the app was secured from the University of Exeter by the Health and Care IMPACT Network.
MORE ABOUT THE STP
The Sustainability and Transformation Partnership is made up of health and care providers across Devon, including NHS trusts, clinical commissioning groups, GP practices, local authorities, Devon Doctors, Livewell Southwest, Virgin Care, SWAHSN, NHS England, Healthwatch and Care UK.
The partnership has a comprehensive five-year plan to transform health and care services for local people so they are fit for the future. The aim is to create a clinically, socially and financially sustainable health and care system that will improve the health, wellbeing and care of local populations.