NHS organisations across the Midlands have released the top 12 most trivial A&E visits of Christmas, in a bid to reduce the number of people who attend when they don't need to.
Gathered from hospitals across Solihull, Birmingham, the Black Country, Herefordshire and Staffordshire, they feature real life stories of people who could have avoided turning up to A&E in 2014.
Solihull Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), which plans, designs and funds health services for the people of Solihull, is urging patients to think twice before going to A&E this winter.
The CCG is advising people to use other services, which include GP out of hours services, urgent care centres and walk-in centres, and pharmacies, or to call NHS111 for advice.
Part of the Choose Well Midlands winter campaign, the call comes from the 15 CCGs across the region. It follows Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) figures from 2012/13, showing that 50 per cent of people attended A&E when they could have gone elsewhere for treatment.
The list of 12 conditions people attended with, which should have been treated at home, by a pharmacist, a GP or by going somewhere completely different, are:
- Sore throat the patient had woken up with
- Diarrhoea and vomiting
- Four-month verruca
- Torn fingernail
- False nails needed removing
- Ear ache
- Ran out of asthma inhaler and needed a replacement
- Wart on a finger
- Hangover after a night out
- Cold and sneezing
- Pain in the toe (left A&E 15 minutes later to visit on-site bakery)
- Hair extensions needed removing
Dr Mike Baker, Solihull CCG Governing Body member and a practising GP, said: “During winter and especially Christmas and New Year, our hospitals are much busier than usual and our doctors, nurses and paramedics want to be able to look after those people who really need their care. The issues from this list can be unpleasant but they simply don’t belong in A&E and waste valuable time and scarce NHS resources.
“The message is to think twice before going to A&E or calling 999 unless you have a life-threatening illness or serious injury. Consider using a pharmacy, the GP out of hours service or a walk-in centre instead. If you’re not sure what healthcare treatment you need, call 111 for advice before you go anywhere.”
As part of the Choose Well campaign, CCGs are encouraging people to use other treatment and services instead of A&E. These include:
- NHS 111 – call for advice and signposting on what the best treatment is and where to go for it.
- Self-care – rest at home with a stocked up cupboard of medicine for minor injuries and illnesses such as coughs and colds.
- Pharmacy – visit for expert advice and treatment for a range of common illnesses.
- GP – call for advice and if symptoms persist for more than a few days, make an appointment.
- Walk-in centre – open until late, treating minor illnesses and injuries such as trips and falls.
Dr Baker added: “There are often other, more appropriate services people can use to help themselves or their loved ones to get better, which will usually be much quicker than waiting for hours at A&E. Choose Well is about raising awareness of the range of services available, such as pharmacists, GPs, 111 and walk-in centres. And in many cases, the best cure for minor illnesses and injuries is staying at home, getting plenty of rest and fluids and taking over-the-counter fever and pain-reducing medication.
“Make sure you’ve stocked up your medicine cabinet with painkillers, cough and cold remedies, indigestion tablets, plasters and bandages. If you’re taking regular medicines, allow plenty of time to order your repeat prescriptions from your GP so that you don’t run out over Christmas.”
To give patients more choice over the festive period and to help manage demand on A&E, an extra walk-in centre will be run from The Chelmsley Wood Primary Care Centre, Crabtree Drive, Chelmsley Wood B37 5BU from 9am to 8pm on the following days:
- Friday 26 December (Boxing Day)
- Saturday 27 December
- Sunday 28 December
This service will complement the existing Solihull GP Walk-in Centre at the entrance to Solihull Hospital, Lode Lane B91 2AE, which will be open every day as usual from 8am to 8pm, including all Bank Holidays.
For more information and to find local GP and pharmacy services, visit www.choosewellmidlands.nhs.uk.