HEALTH chiefs have denied that patients are being put at risk by a drive to reduce the number of people being taken to A&E.
Ambulance crews had been encouraged to take people with “non-urgent” conditions to Solihull’s walk-in centre.
The strategy reduces the strain on A&E and saved the cash-strapped NHS over £186,000 during the course of a year.
But the recent death of a patient, over the border in Birmingham, had made paramedics wary of the practise.
The young adult, who has not been named, was taken to a walk-in centre with flu-like symptoms.
In fact he had swine flu and died from the virus, it was revealed last week.
Solihull Primary Care Trust said that the decision whether or not to take a patient to A&E was based solely on medical need.
“There is no requirement or suggestion that a decision should be made on the basis of cost,” said a spokesman.
“Ambulance personnel take patients to the facility that best meets their health and care needs.”
A care trust report admitted that, following the death, paramedics had taken fewer patients to the borough’s own walk-in centre.
But it said that it had worked closely with Solihull Ambulance Station to reassure their teams about using this option.
The walk-in health centre, based on the same site as Solihull Hospital, first opened in 2009.
In their statement, Solihull Primary Care Trust said it offered a safe service.
It added that on average patients were seen quicker there than they were in A&E.