Fylde Coast health chiefs today join forces with NHS England and the nation’s top A&E doctors to urge those patients who can to avoid the post-Christmas and New Year rush to hospital.

With the festive season in full swing, they are reminding people to keep A&E free for emergencies only between Boxing Day and December 29 when demand traditionally peaks.

The advice from health leaders and the Royal College of Emergency Medicine reminds people suffering from viral coughs, flu and minor ailments to recover at home, leaving A&E doctors and nurses free to help those with life-threatening illness.

This latest call comes a year after NHS Blackpool and NHS Fylde and Wyre Clinical Commissioning Groups and Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust launched the ‘Think! Why A&E?’ campaign in a bid to ease the pressure on services at Blackpool Victoria Hospital.

In a joint statement, clinical chief officer of NHS Fylde and Wyre CCG Dr Tony Naughton, chief clinical officer for NHS Blackpool CCG Dr Amanda Doyle and Prof Mark O’Donnell of Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We really need people to remember that the Accident and Emergency department is strictly for accidents and emergencies.

“People with minor ailments could face a lengthy wait to be seen and would be better off visiting a pharmacist or looking after themselves at home.

“Anyone who is feeling unwell and isn’t sure what they should do can always ring 111 for help and advice on where to go and who to see.”

The growing burden of alcohol-related activity on hospitals in England, particularly at this time of year, places additional pressure on busy NHS services.

According to a recent report by the Nuffield Trust, emergency admissions to hospital specific to alcohol have increased by more than 50 per cent in nine years and now top a quarter of a million a year, while the number of people attending A&E with probable alcohol poisoning has doubled in six years. The estimated cost to the NHS of alcohol misuse is around £3.5billion every year, or £120 for every taxpayer.

According to official NHS data, last year the NHS responded to far-and-away the highest ever number of A&E attendances, NHS 111 calls, ambulance calls, and emergency admissions in NHS history.

Professor Keith Willett, National Clinical Director for Acute Care said: “Younger, fitter people can help our hardworking NHS doctors and nurses by only attending if it’s absolutely necessary.”

“Having winter remedies such as over-the-counter painkillers and simple cough syrups in stock is always a good idea. Using a pharmacist as a first point of contact when you’re unwell is often the best thing to do.”

Dr Cliff Mann, President of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine said:  “Seeking advice for management of common symptoms from a pharmacist or NHS 111 offers generally well adults an opportunity to save time and allow A&E departments to ensure they can concentrate on seriously ill patients and those whose health is generally poorer.”


 

Notes:

  • Think! Why A&E? is a joint campaign between NHS Fylde and Wyre CCG, NHS Blackpool CCG and Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
  • Self care – Minor illnesses, ailments and injuries can be treated at home. Coughs, colds, sore throats, upset stomachs and aches and pains can be treated with a well-stocked medicine cabinet and plenty of rest.
  • Pharmacy – Pharmacists offer a range of health services. As well as dispensing prescriptions and other medicines, your pharmacy can provide free confidential expert advice and treatment for a variety of common illnesses and complaints, without having to book a GP appointment. You can find your nearest pharmacy by visiting the ‘services near you’ section of nhs.uk.
  • NHS 111 – This is a free telephone service, available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You should call 111 if you urgently need medical help or information, but your situation is not life-threatening. When you dial 111, you will be directed to the best local services to make sure you get fast and effective treatment.
  • Walk-in or same day centres – These centres provide consultations, guidance and treatment for minor injuries and illnesses, as well as emergency contraception and sexual health advice. There are two centres on the Fylde coast, (locations can be found at whyaande.nhs.uk) both operating seven days a week from 8am onwards.
  • GP surgery – If you have an illness or injury that won’t go away, make an appointment with your GP. They provide a range of services by appointment, and when absolutely essential, can make home visits. If you need to see a GP outside of the surgery’s normal opening hours, telephone the surgery and your call will be forwarded to the GP out-of-hours service.