A new appointments-based system for minor injuries, including suspected broken bones, is being introduced across NHS Lothian as part of efforts to tackle the nationwide crisis in A&E.
Patients are being urged to call NHS 24 to be given a scheduled slot rather than simply turning up at hospital.
The system has been piloted at St John’s Hospital in Livingston for the past year.
Lead advanced nurse practitioner Emma Philp said: “We’re now scheduling minor injury patients to appointments rather than having them sitting in the emergency department waiting room for long periods of time.
“Our minor injuries specialist nurses see potentially broken bones, strains, sprains, wounds, insect bites.”
The new set up is now being rolled out at Edinburgh’s Western General and Royal Infirmary.
The most recent figures show more than a third of patients coming to emergency departments across Scotland had to wait longer than four hours to be admitted, transferred or discharged.
In the week ending June 19, the wait was longer than twelve hours for almost 800 patients.
NHS Lothian’s acute nurse director Gillian McAuley said the appointment system should assist with prioritising more serious cases.
“For those patients, for example, who have collapsed or have chest pain we would still advise the route is 999.
“We are not advising that patients who have an emergency are using this service, it is patients who require to be seen and have an urgency but not in any emergency situation.”
Fifteen-year-old Madison Maben was treated at St John’s after receiving an appointment through NHS24.
“I was going down the stairs and I tripped over my dog’s toy and went over my ankle,” she told STV News. “The hospital was really quick in booking the appointment and getting me from the waiting area to the consulting room.”
The time it took to assess, x-ray and treat her for a broken ankle meant she was able to go home in less than an hour.