Published: 22/07/2004, Volume II4, No. 5915 Page 6

A comprehensive picture of emergency care across Exeter and mid and east Devon, which can be used to assess the future delivery of services, has been mapped using a Skills for Health competence framework.

All providers of emergency healthcare - GPs, doctors on call, district nurses, walk-in centres and minor injuries units as well as the frontline ambulance service and accident and emergency departments - have completed a self-assessment of the services they provide or have plans for in the future.

Helen Stapleton, workforce redesign facilitator at South West Peninsula strategic health authority, which is responsible for the mapping exercise, says: 'Our rationale follows the work of our emergency services collaborative, which as well as being tasked with achieving specific targets wants to find ways of improving our emergency care services holistically.'

The competence framework provided a coherent structure for gaining a clear picture of what services were being delivered or planned by whom, she says.

She devised a grid that listed the relevant emergency care competences and asked each participant to consider whether they were relevant to their service. If so, she then asked whether they were delivering the service either 100 per cent of the time, intermittently, had plans for future delivery or had services that needed to be delivered but for which no plans were in place.

'Our long-term objective is to determine how we are going to provide emergency care in the region, ' says Ms Stapleton.'We have several minor injuries units and different types of providers in the region so it is very relevant for us to know whether we are delivering the service in the best way and whether we have the right staff.'