The Island’s NHS is joining other Trusts across the country in appealing to the public not to go to Emergency Departments this winter unless they genuinely have a very serious or life threatening health problem.
Every year St. Mary’s Hospital report the number of people using the Emergency Department inappropriately is increasing which puts significant pressure on emergency services which are already stretched when there are more suitable health services available.
Mr Robin Beal, Emergency Department Consultant, said: “It is really important at this time of year as the severity of medical patients with emergencies increases, for individuals with more minor medical problems to consider the appropriateness of attending the Emergency Department. The Department is certainly for the care of those with acute problems that cannot wait to be seen, however, it is the wrong place for someone to attend with a chronic problem that has not changed. Chronic problems cannot be treated in the Department and patients will be redirected to their GP, often after a long wait. Similarly there are many conditions that can be self-managed, such as small cuts, with plasters or simple pain relief. There are also other places to seek advice, such as pharmacies and of course your own GP.”
Emergency Departments and 999 services are for serious and life-threatening conditions only, such as heart attacks, strokes, broken bones or breathing difficulties. If you are unsure whether your condition is urgent, contact NHS 111 before visiting St. Mary’s Hospital. The NHS 111 service has been specifically designed to give advice to people who think they have an urgent health need that isn’t a 999 emergency.
Mr Beal, added: “The Emergency Department should not necessarily be the first port of call and is not to be seen as a way of seeing a doctor more quickly than going to your doctor’s surgery or as a way to expedite investigations organised by a GP. After all, those with life threatening or severe illness or injury may have to wait longer than necessary, to their detriment.”
The Choose Well campaign aims to encourage people to find a more appropriate service for minor injuries and ailments. In particular, the national campaign will focus on providing information to:
families with young children
young people aged 15 – 24
people with long term conditions such as diabetes or respiratory problems.
Research by hospitals around the country shows these groups are “frequent flyers” at Emergency Departments when they could have been treated elsewhere. The campaign aims to make sure the public know where the alternative health services are and persuade them to use those services instead.
Nationally more than one in ten people admit to using an Emergency Department when they knew they didn’t need to. Emergency attendance from June 2011 to May 2012 was over 17. 6 million – so that’s over two million attendances that were inappropriate.
The Beacon Centre at St. Mary’s Hospital is a walk in centre for people with urgent medical problems who are unable to get an appointment to see a GP or when their GP Practice is closed. Lisa Burtenshaw, Beacon Centre Manager, said: “A patient’s own GP is best placed to make a diagnosis, provide a treatment plan with continuity and refer onto specialist services if required, based on the patient’s clinical history. The Walk In Centre is unable to provide follow-up appointments, non-urgent repeat prescriptions for Island residents or referrals to specialties which people don’t always realise when they attend for non-urgent matters.”
The Choose Well campaign asks the public to think about how serious their health problem is and then choose the right service:
· For very minor problems such as a hangover, indigestion, or a grazed knee, people should self-care
· For minor infections, coughs and colds, advice can be given by local pharmacies
· For ailments such as stomach pain and vomiting, a persistent cough or ear pain call your GP surgery. Details can be found at www.nhs.uk. A mobile phone friendly web-link is also available at http://bit.ly/nhsnwQR
· If you are not sure which service to choose, call NHS 111
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