Coventry and Warwickshire health clinicians are asking the public to consider their use of local emergency departments at a time when there is a high volume of people turning up inappropriately.
Since the Christmas and New Year break there have been increasing numbers coming to accident and emergency departments when they do not have an emergency or life threatening situation. Patients with flu-like symptoms, sickness, earaches and diarrhoea are presenting at hospital despite there being other services that are more suited to deal with these. Minor injuries or illnesses which include small cuts, coughs and colds can be best dealt with by visiting a GP, walk-in or urgent care centre. NHS111 is available 24 hours a day, they are able to assess symptoms and direct to the local service that can provide the most help.
Making an unnecessary visit to the Emergency Department takes hospital teams away from their role which is to help those with life threatening situations. This includes conditions such as loss of consciousness; persistent, severe chest pain; breathing difficulties and severe bleeding that cannot be stopped.
All patients attending an emergency department will receive an initial assessment on arrival and those with minor complaints could face extended waits of four hours or more.
Meghana Pandit, Chief Medical Officer at UHCW NHS Trust, said: “We are currently seeing a high number of very sick patients in our Emergency Department who need admission to hospital. In order to provide care to those patients and maintain safety throughout the hospitals we would be grateful if people would consider contacting other appropriate services such as 111, GPs or pharmacists before presenting to the Emergency Department.”
Mrs Nippani, Associate Medical Director for emergency care at South Warwickshire NHS Foundation Trust said: “All hospitals in the area are asking for support from the public to help ease the pressure on our A&E departments. There is the misconception that coming to an emergency department will mean you are seen quickly when the actual reality is for minor concerns patients are experiencing long waits.”
Gordon Wood, Medical Director at George Eliot Hospital NHS Trust, said: “In addition to increasing numbers coming to our emergency department we have also seen people arrive with norovirus. This can be very dangerous to the sick and elderly and we would appreciate those with who have had diarrhoea or vomiting symptoms to stay away from hospital.”
People experiencing minor illnesses or feeling under the weather should seek early advice from their local pharmacist. If you need medical help but it is not a 999 emergency, call NHS111 – a free telephone advice service, which is open 24/7.