NHS patients will have to 'book A&E appointments before showing up at hospital'

PATIENTS who need A&E treatment will be told to book appointments before arriving, NHS leaders have been told.

Brits suffering with injuries or illnesses that require urgent attention will need to book in before travelling to their local hospital.

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Patients will book using the NHS 111 service to help hospitals better manage numbers.

During the same meeting, hospital leaders were told the four-hour waiting time target is likely to be axed before winter.

Pauline Philip, national director of urgent and emergency care, said the plan is to introduce a “different social norm", the Mirror reports.

She said: “People traditionally have accessed emergency care by turning up in an emergency department.

"Now we’re saying there are better ways of doing this.”

The target of seeing 95 per cent of patients within four hours has been missed every month since 2015.

Critics want it scrapped, and now ministers and NHS bosses say it will be replaced by a system which means patients with more severe complaints are seen quicker.

Those with more minor problems could face much longer waits for a doctor or nurse.

It comes ahead of what officials fear could be a terrible winter for the NHS, which seems set to struggle under the combined weight of coronavirus and seasonal flu.

Brits have been warned it could take four years for NHS waiting lists to return to normal after the pandemic.

It comes as GPs will be told to WhatsApp test results to their patients as part of a bonfire of red tape.

Under bureaucracy-busting plans, the sick will no longer have to call or wait for a GP letter.

Doctors have been given the green light to use Skype, WhatsApp and Facetime to communicate confidential data.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock wants the NHS to use more smartphone tech so frontline staff can spend less time on paperwork and more  on treating patients.

He will also push for patients’ GP records to be linked, so officials can quickly identify coronavirus risk factors.

And in a bid to boost staff recruitment, all new NHS jobs will offer flexible hours from next year.

The sweeping new changes will be brought in by Christmas after a series of successful pilots, officials at a joint board meeting of NHS England and NHS Improvement heard.

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