Emergency departments across Greater Manchester have deployed an integrated care platform aimed at reducing wait times and improving care across the region.

The Greater Manchester Urgent Primary Care Alliance (GMUPCA) is rolling out Odyssey, the clinical decision support solution from Advanced.

The system is expected to reduce wait times in A&E across 10 NHS trusts and ensure patients calling 111 or visiting A&E are triaged in the same way.

Before a patient visits A&E they will be triaged by phone, allowing staff to prioritise patients with the most urgent care needs and redirect others to more appropriate services such as their GP or out of hours services.

Nine of the region’s NHS trusts will go live with the telephone triage tool from the start of December, and Royal Bolton Hospital will be the first to go live with the tool at its A&E department.

Dr David Ratcliffe, clinical lead for urgent care at Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership, said: “True integration of urgent and emergency care for patients in Greater Manchester is based upon the principles of equity and shared standards.

“Operationally, the ability to organise care for patients based on a single digital system for appointments, consultation and referral is an absolutely key component.”

Dr Zahid Chauhan, chief clinical Lead at GMUPCA, added: “By triaging patients before they walk into the hospital, A&E staff are less likely to be overstretched which is critical as the country prepares for another winter crisis exacerbated by rising Covid-19 admissions.

“Through Advanced’s system, we will be able to bring patients to the right place and ensure they get the right treatment fast. It’s a much more integrated and collaborative approach so all patients across Greater Manchester will receive the same patient journey.”

Odyssey was implemented to triage category three and four calls by Greater Manchester’s Clinical Assessment Service in 2018.

The latest initiative follows a successful 90-day pilot which saw the North West Ambulance Service’s low acuity calls to 999 passed to GMUPCA, which used Advanced’s clinical patient management software, Adastra, to deliver a local integrated urgent care response.

The trial saved the ambulance service hundreds of ambulance hours per week while also expediting thousands of patient journeys, cut down conveyance to A&E and facilitated care closer to patients’ homes.

The combination of Advanced’s Odyssey and Adastra solutions integrated and used across all 111, 999 and A&E services in Greater Manchester will ensure patients receive consistent and faster care regardless of which service provider they are triaged to.

Ric Thompson, managing director health and care at Advanced, said: “The implementation of an integrated urgent care solution couldn’t come at a more critical time. Earlier this month, the North West Ambulance Service declared a major incident due to a surge in calls to 111 and 999 which resulted in delays and queues at A&E departments.

“Quite clearly, the NHS is overstretched which is why we are now seeing a shift in thinking that A&E is a drop-in venue open to all to something that patients are triaged to. Already, we have seen the NHS develop a 111 First programme to minimise overcrowding in A&E in light of Covid-19.

“Now, A&E departments are ramping up support ahead of winter so they can avoid the crisis we’ve sadly seen in previous years.”