Emergency Department signposting/ redirection guidance

Best practice guidance for Emergency Departments to ensure people are being seen by the right person in the right place for their healthcare need.

6. Signposting/redirection

Signposting and Redirection aims to direct patients to areas/services appropriate to their needs where their healthcare requirements can be better addressed.

6.1 Definitions

Term: Signposting

Reference: NHS Networks

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde

Definition: “Provide patients with a first point of contact which directs them to the most appropriate source of help. Web and app-based portals can provide self-help and self-management resources as well as signposting to the most appropriate professional. Receptionists acting as care navigators can ensure the patient is booked with the right person first time.”

“Signposting is an Emergency Nurse Practitioner delivered process of streaming or directing attendees to specific services within the emergency care system, out with the Emergency Department”

Term: Redirection

Reference: Royal College of Emergency Medicine (RCEM)

Definition: “The referral of patients who are assessed as not requiring emergency care away from the Emergency Department. This may be to another service or with self-care advice”

Term: Emergency Medicine

Reference: Royal College of Emergency Medicine (RCEM)

Definition: “Emergency Medicine is a field of practice based on the knowledge and skills required for the prevention, diagnosis and management of acute and urgent aspects of illness and injury affecting patients of all age groups with a full spectrum of undifferentiated physical and behavioural disorders.”[1]

The underpinning principle remains:

‘Any guidance that is put in place will have to fulfil basic requirements of Safety, Simplicity, Efficacy and Reliability. The decision to redirect individuals will be based on assessment by an experienced member of clinical staff to ensure that patients receive the right care at the right time, in the right place from the right person’.

Consistent and effective signposting practice offers a number of benefits to the citizen and the system. These include:

  • care appropriate to the patient’s need in the right place and at the right time for their condition
  • enables and releases capacity for Emergency Medicine clinicians to deliver emergency care to those in need of the skills of an Emergency Department team
  • reduces delay in assessment and treatment for clinically urgent cases
  • reduces the risk of overcrowding in Emergency Departments and supports the application of safe distancing where required
  • provides an opportunity to increase public awareness of alternative routes to access care appropriate to their needs


Email: jessica.milne@gov.scot

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