Health bosses in the north east have issued a stark warning to
members of the public who are misusing emergency NHS services,
putting unnecessary pressure on hospitals and putting more
seriously ill patients at risk.
Between 1 December and Christmas Day, over 53,000 people
attended major A&E departments in hospitals across the north
east* yet less than 30%, just over 15,000 people, actually needed
admission to hospital for emergency treatment.
Emergency hospital teams are calling upon the public to stop
misusing A&E services for minor ailments which are not serious
or life threatening. Examples over the festive season from
right across the north east include people attending A&E
Mr David Evans chairs one of the region's A&E delivery
boards and is chief executive of Northumbria Healthcare NHS
Foundation Trust. On behalf of all NHS providers in the north
east, he said: "Emergency departments right across the region are
extremely busy and people must start taking accountability for
their actions and the impact this has on the NHS.
"Our message is very simple, if it is not a serious or life
threatening emergency then please do not waste the time of busy
hospital teams or 999 services who are there to look after patients
who are very sick and who do need immediate medical help.
"Many of the attendances the region's hospitals are seeing are for
common winter illnesses such as bad colds, viruses or stomach bugs
which always circulate in the community at this time of year.
These are best looked after at home with over the counter
medication, plenty of fluids, rest and recuperation - they
certainly do not need a trip to A&E."
The NHS always sees a rise in emergency admissions to hospital
at this time of year, particularly amongst older people, who are
much more susceptible to serious illness or injury during the cold
winter months. For every inappropriate A&E attendance - a
broken finger nail, a sore throat or a stomach bug - the attention
of hospital staff is pulled away from caring for those who really
do need immediate and potentially lifesaving help.
Emergency 999 calls have also risen by a third in the last two
weeks, putting enormous pressure on the North East Ambulance
Service. Chief operating officer, Paul Liversidge, said: "We
are currently experiencing unprecedented demand and are
prioritising our response to those whose life is most at risk. The
public can help us reach those patients who need us most by only
dialling 999 in the event of a serious emergency. Patients
without a potentially life threatening condition are likely to wait
longer than usual for an ambulance response."
Mr Evans added: "Every year the NHS makes the same plea to the
public and every year we continue to see inappropriate A&E
attendances rise. For too long, A&E has become the
default option for too many people and this simply has to change
for the future of the NHS.
"Our emergency system is without doubt the best in the world but
we need to keep it that way and keep 999 and emergency care free to
do what the NHS does best. This starts with people taking
more accountability. We are appealing to the public
conscience today and for everyone to really think about how use
The region's NHS is reminding the public that your GP should
always be the first port of call for most medical problems unless
it is a serious or life threatening emergency. If in doubt,
the free NHS 111 number is available 24/7 for expert medical
Healthcare leaders in the north east are also backing the
national Stay Well This Winter campaign which encourages people to
look after themselves well www.nhs.uk/staywell.
*A&E attendances at 'type 1' departments (i.e. major
A&E departments) and emergency admissions to hospital (via
A&E) between 1 December 2016 and 25 December
2016.Note - Daily SitReps are collected from
acute trusts each weekday during winter and indicate where there
are any winter pressures on the service around the country.
Data collection for winter 2016-17 commenced on 1st December
2016. This information above is management data which has
been collected on a rapid turn-round basis from the NHS. The speed
of the collection only permits minimal validation to be undertaken
but the data is considered 'fit-for-purpose'.
Published: 5 January 2017
'The treatment I have received from all the staff has been
excellent and could you extend my thanks to them all. A very
thankful and relieved patient'.
Patient, Dermatology Outpatients Department, University Hospital
of North Durham