As many as one in four people who go to A&E could care for themselves or use alternative treatment. A&E should only be used for critical or life-threatening situations requiring medical attention, such as loss of consciousness, heavy blood loss, suspected broken bones, persistent chest pain, difficulty breathing, overdoses, ingestion or poisoning. People with minor injuries and ailments should not attend at the A&E department and are warned they will face longer waits than normal as more serious cases are prioritised.
Norovirus is also very common at this time of year and outbreaks of the virus are being reported around the country. For most people it is no worse than a short bout of diarrhoea and vomiting that should clear up within 24-72 hours. Health professionals are asking the public to help prevent the spread of norovirus, which can be very dangerous to elderly and sick people, by staying away from hospitals if they have had any diarrhoea and vomiting symptoms.
Dr Nick Harding, a local GP and Chair of NHS Sandwell and West Birmingham Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said: “Emergency health services are under pressure in Sandwell and West Birmingham this week so we want people to think before they go to A&E or call 999. These services need to be free to deal with real emergencies and should only be used in genuine emergency situations.
“We are also urging people to do everything they can to speed the discharge of loved-ones in hospital who are well enough to leave, to free up space for other patients. This includes caring for them at home for a short time until alternative arrangements (such as home visits or a place in a care home) are finalised. Our priority is to keep our patients safe.”
People are being urged to use alternative NHS services where appropriate such as local pharmacies, walk in centres, make an appointment with their GP in the normal way, call NHS 111 and you can download the Ask NHS App.
Most GP practices are now offering weekend access. To find out if your practice is participating in this scheme please call the usual practice phone number and listen to the full instructions. Alternatively, you can check your practice’s opening times on NHS Choices https://www.nhs.uk/Service-Search/GP/LocationSearch/4
A&E departments will provide the best possible care for life-threatening illness and injury, but people should only go there in a real emergency. Those with minor injuries such as cuts or sprains have the option of attending local walk in centres including:
- Parsonage Street Walk in Centre, Parsonage Street, West Bromwich 8am-8pm, 7 days a week
- Summerfield Urgent Care Centre, 134 Heath Street, Winson Green, Birmingham, 8am-8pm, 7 days a week
Staff are continuing to do all they can to ensure that everyone coming into hospital who need help gets the care they need.