HEALTH officials are taking urgent action to urge the public to keep A&E free for serious emergencies only.
With pressure mounting on local NHS services, doctors in County Durham are asking the public not to just to turn up to A&E but to think pharmacy, GP and 111 first.
The urgent plea is aimed at reducing the number of inappropriate visits to local A&E departments and raise awareness of alternative services available for people needing urgent medical advice and treatment.
Dr Stewart Findlay, chief officer, NHS County Durham Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said: “The message is clear, please do not just go to A&E if it’s not a serious emergency.
“Alternative treatment options are available and finding the right service for you may be quicker and closer to home. A&E is there to deal with genuine life-threatening emergencies only.
“If a medical need is not life threatening visiting a local pharmacy, contacting your GP practice, or calling NHS 111, who can arrange appointments with a GP, pharmacy, or urgent treatment centre, means that you won’t have to spend hours waiting in A&E, and treatment can be given quicker to those really in need of urgent care.”
A&E services in County Durham are available for the following conditions:
- loss of consciousness
- acute confused state and fits that are not stopping
- chest pain
- breathing difficulties
- severe bleeding that cannot be stopped
- severe allergic reactions
- severe burns or scalds
- major trauma such as a road traffic accident
If people do turn up with minor ailments and don’t need to be there – they will be re-directed to a more appropriate service for their needs.
Anyone concerned about mental health issues is encouraged to contact the local Tees Esk & Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust (TEWV) crisis service on freephone number 0800 0516171.
Advice on what to do in a mental health emergency is also available at www.tewv.nhs.uk/crisisadvice.
Sue Jacques, chief executive, County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust (CDDFT) added: “The support we have seen for the NHS has been amazing over the last year.
“We now need to ask people to keep this up and continue do their bit to protect the NHS and each other”.
Further guidance on when you should go to A&E can be found at: https://www.nhs.uk/using-the-nhs/nhs-services/urgent-and-emergency-care/when-to-go-to-ae/