All urgent care providers should adopt an audit tool that has helped one area to cut acute emergency spending in half.

The urgent and emergency care toolkit audits interactions between patients and staff, across sectors, including contacts with non-clinical staff such as receptionists. These audits are then used to plan the most effective services by identifying, for example, where processes are unnecessarily duplicated.

Developed by the Royal College of GPs and the College of Emergency Medicine, with funding from the Department of Health, it has been subject to a six month trial.

It has already been incorporated into NHS Croydon’s contract with Croydon Health Services through the commissioning for quality and innovation (CQUIN) payment framework, at the request of GPs from local commissioning consortia.

The primary care trust is halving spending on the accident and emergency department at Croydon University Hospital and reinvesting £5m in alternative urgent care services.

Polysystem programme director Jessica Brittin told HSJ the tool had been a useful way of measuring quality.

It can also be used by NHS Direct and the new NHS 111 urgent care service. It has been found to be compatible with sexual health services as well.

DH clinical director of urgent and emergency care Matthew Cooke said the department would like the toolkit adopted by all urgent care providers “to ensure a seamless, safe and effective journey” for all urgent care patients.

Royal College of GPs clinical champion for urgent care Agnelo Fernandes said the toolkit would help create a picture of “perceived need as well as actual need if we all speak the same language”.