A YORK Hospital boss says planned changes to its emergency department will help reduce overcrowding and ensure patients are 'seen in the right place by the right clinical staff.'

Dr James Taylor, medical director for York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, also said there were 'no plans' for existing staff's employment to be transferred to private company Vocare.

Responding to criticisms of proposals to partially privatise the A & E department, he said Vocare was already commissioned by NHS Vale of York CCG to provide the current minor illness service and GP out of hours service, which were located alongside the emergency department.

He said Urgent Treatment Centres (UTCs) treated non-emergency patients, avoiding the need for them to wait in emergency departments when they didn’t need to be there.

"This also helps emergency departments to focus on the patients that need more urgent help," he said.

“As NHS guidance on UTCs has evolved over time, there is now a requirement for a more integrated approach to minor illness and minor injury, and to support the ability for patients to be directly booked in to appointments via NHS 111.

“As the two current providers, the Trust and Vocare have agreed to continue to work together to ensure that York has a fully compliant UTC that best meets our patients’ needs."

He said UTCs were seen as one of the ways of reducing overcrowding in emergency departments, ensuring that their staff were available to see the patients with the most urgent need, and that patients are seen in the right place by the right clinical staff.

“We know that staff have raised concerns that there may be plans for their employment to be transferred to Vocare," he said. "There are no plans to do this. As is the case now, staff employed by the Trust will continue to work jointly with Vocare staff to deliver the service, and we are working with Vocare to establish joint governance arrangements.

"The streaming of patients on arrival into the emergency department will continue to be managed by the Trust’s clinical staff.

“As well as the existing relationship with York Hospital’s emergency department, Vocare also runs the UTCs at Scarborough Hospital and Malton Hospital, as well as a number of other services on behalf of the NHS.”