Winter health campaign to stop unnecessary A&E visits

A CAMPAIGN has been launched by the NHS to help people in South Gloucestershire receive treatment in the right place this winter and avoid clogging up casualty departments unnecessarily.

Across the country, nearly half of those who go to an accident and emergency department can just as easily be dealt with by their GP, at an NHS walk-in centre, minor injuries unit or an urgent care centre, or by phoning NHS 111.

The campaign has been co-ordinated on behalf of local clinical commissioning groups and will run until Easter.

Dr Jonathan Hayes, the GP chairman of South Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “It’s really important that people know exactly where to go for the right treatment.

"A&E departments are extremely busy and people coming to them with a minor injury and illness may have to face longer waits, particularly if there are major or complex injuries brought into the department by ambulance.

“So before considering A&E we would ask that local people really think about the best place to go for treatment or advice.

"That could be their GP, calling 111 for advice, talking to a pharmacist or visiting a walk-in centre or minor injuries unit, where waiting times to be seen can be considerably less than A&E. Of course, in a serious life-threatening emergency do not wait, call 999 for immediate assistance.”

Lesley Walford, an emergency nurse practitioner based at the Yate Minor Injuries Unit, said: “On average we can see and treat most people in under an hour – sometimes within minutes."

But she stressed the centre, which has seen its number recently rise to an average of between 40 and 50 patients a day, only deals with injuries.

"We are a specific department for minor injuries," she said. "These are all we do so we don’t have complex, major cases that take a lot of time to deal with.”

Minor injury units deal with such things as sprains, bites, falls, cuts, minor burns, minor ear and eye problems, some broken bones and minor head injuries. The Yate centre, within the West Gate Health Centre, is open from 10am to 2pm on the Bank Holidays this Christmas or call for advice on 01454 315355.

There is also a minor injuries unit at Southmead Hospital and NHS 111 is open 24 hours a day and is free to call. Fully trained advisers or nurses will deal with questions and symptoms and can give information or direct patients to the most appropriate health service for treatment.

More information is available by visiting www.thinkabc.org.uk.

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