Patients who need to go to A&E may be able to be treated in their own home, or at the scene of the emergency, to free up more ambulances in south east Wales.
If a member of the public calls 999, they may be treated by a consultant or medic at the scene rather than taken into a hospital, following a joint service by Cardiff and Vale University Health Board and the Welsh Ambulance Service.
The Physician Response Unit will be able to rapidly consult with hospital specialists, and also carry out tests at the scene including COVID-19 screening, ultrasound and blood tests.
Those involved are hoping that through this service, some of the community’s most vulnerable groups including the frail, elderly, those who are shielding and people experiencing mental health crisis could avoid attending hospital completely.
Dr Syed Masud, Consultant for the health board and Clinical Lead for the new service, said, “As COVID-19 is still prevalent in our community, we understand that some of our most vulnerable patients may feel uneasy accessing emergency care in our hospitals.
"By introducing this service, we’re bringing care closer to patients’ homes in a safe manner.
“PRU has the advantage of senior decision making at the first point of patient access as our responders have direct contact with specialists and senior physicians within the hospital.
"This means that we can consult on patients’ individual cases and treat them in the comfort of their own home in a fast and efficient manner.”
The unit will work closely with community partners such as the police and primary care to ensure patients from all community groups are eligible for the service.
Mark Cadman, the Welsh Ambulance Service’s Operations Manager in Cardiff and Vale, said, “By taking the clinical expertise of the emergency department into a person’s home, we can save a patient an unnecessary hospital visit where their condition can be safely managed elsewhere.“It also means more ambulances are available to respond to our sickest emergency patients."