It is estimated that around 11 per cent of people who attend A&E are sent home requiring no treatment. A further 38 per cent receive guidance or advice only for minor conditions such as coughs, colds, muscular pain or allergies, which could be managed safely and effectively at home or with advice from a pharmacist.
Locally, around 300 people a day attend A&E at Southend Hospital. With the summer holiday season upon us it is important to remember the choice of places open to you should you need help because you are unwell or injured.
Dr Roger Gardiner, local GP and unplanned care clinical lead for NHS Castle Point and Rochford Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “During the summer months visitors flock to this area to enjoy the seaside. To ensure that everyone can access the NHS services they need we want to encourage everyone to stop and think before going to A&E.
“A&E is there for life-threatening emergencies such as loss of consciousness, suspected heart attacks, breathing difficulties, or severe bleeding that cannot be stopped. If it is not a serious medical emergency, A&E is not the right choice.”
Yvonne Blücher, Managing Director at Southend University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, said: “People attending A&E who could obtain care elsewhere put undue pressure on both the department and the hospital as a whole. On many occasions it would have been better for the patient and the hospital if they sought treatment from a more appropriate service.
“We want our staff to be able to concentrate on those patients who really need their specialist expertise.”
Gary Baines, an Essex area manager for the East of England Ambulance Service, said: “People should use 999 only for the life-threatening and serious emergencies such as cardiac arrest, suspected stroke, suspected heart attack, and so on. The NHS 111 is the alternative for people to use when they have a genuine problem but it isn’t serious – people don’t realise this but it can provide help and advice and out of hours GP appointments. If you arrive at A&E by ambulance you will still have to wait unless your condition is urgent. Make use of the great support out there from 111, GPs and pharmacists; they will get you the help you need and save you time.”