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Don't waste A&E's time, James Paget pleas

PUBLISHED: 10:18 17 August 2010 | UPDATED: 11:56 16 September 2010

OFFICIALS from hospitals across the region last night pleaded with patients to use A&E departments correctly, following a surge in emergency visits.

It came as the James Paget University Hospital, in Gorleston, reported record attendance levels and bosses raised fears the problem could get worse over the next few weeks.

OFFICIALS from hospitals across the region last night pleaded with patients to use A&E departments correctly, following a surge in emergency visits.

It came as the James Paget University Hospital, in Gorleston, reported record attendance levels and bosses raised fears the problem could get worse over the next few weeks.

The JPH has launched an information campaign, featuring posters and leaflets, after becoming increasingly concerned about inappropriate A&E visits by patients with everyday ailments such as sprains, cuts, toothache or colds.

There have been almost 500 additional visits to its A&E between April and June this year, compared to the corresponding period the previous year.

There were also record attendances on Monday, August 9, with 253 people turning up on one day, compared to a usual Monday of around 200 patients.

Many of these were for minor conditions which could have been treated in the community, more quickly, and nearer to people's homes.

Duncan Peacock, a consultant in A&E at the JPH, said: “Our A&E is seriously stretched at the moment. Inappropriate use of A&E is a real problem, because it makes the queues for treatment longer. It also adds unnecessarily to the staff workload, when they should be concentrating all their efforts on patients with serious conditions.

“We are asking the public to please think first and try to avoid putting unnecessary pressure on A&E. Only attend if you need emergency attention for a serious medical condition, accident or trauma.

“The doctors and nurses there are equipped to deal with serious emergency cases.

“Turning up at A&E with minor ailments will not mean you are seen more quickly than at places like GP surgeries, as staff will simply prioritise the most serious cases. If used responsibly, A&E will be more effective if you, your friend or loved-one needs emergency care.”

The hospital and NHS Great Yarmouth and Waveney have produced a series of posters with the catchline: “The NHS belongs to all of us - let's use it right”. They are being distributed to places such as supermarkets and libraries, and being displayed in A&E and GP surgeries.

The calls echo those of bosses from the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital who have seen a continued increase of patients in A&E - causing knock-on problems across the rest of the hospital such as cancelled operations.

An N&N spokesman said that A&E visits had risen year-on-year with nearly 100,000 people using the service last year.

“There are a wide variety of local NHS services that people can use for more minor health problems and we would ask that people don't use A&E for more minor illness,” the spokesman added.

Meanwhile, a spokesman for the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, in King's Lynn, said demand for A&E treatment had increase “significantly” in recent days.

He said the hospital was always busy at this time of year due to the number of tourists in Norfolk during the summer months, increasing demand in A&E.

For further health advice and information 24-hours a day, call NHS Direct on 0845 4647 or visit www.nhsdirect.nhs.uk

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