More than a third of patients visiting A&E in Cambridgeshire could have used other services, reducing pressure at hospitals, it has been revealed.
Latest NHS figures reveal that over a third (111,012) of patients that attended one of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough’s A&E departments over the past year could have used an alternative NHS service.
As the second May Bank Holiday approaches, local health chiefs are urging residents to consider whether A&E is their best option, or if they could in fact visit a pharmacy or call NHS 111 or even care for themselves at home instead.
Tracy Dowling, Chief Officer, Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Clinical Commissioning Group said: “These latest figures highlight the increasing demand we are seeing on our A&E departments and the fact that many of the patients attending could actually have been treated elsewhere.
“It is crucial that people choose the right health service to ensure A&E is kept free for those who really need it. If you are unsure, then call NHS 111. Open 24/7; every day of the year, NHS 111 can help you find the right service for your illness or injury. If you do require emergency assistance a 111 advisor can send an ambulance to you or advise you to go to A&E.”
Across Cambridgeshire a total of 309,414 patients attended one of the local A&E departments in the last year. This was an increase of 10,000 on the previous year which equates to an extra 26 patients a day. Of the 70,669 patients who visited Peterborough Hospital’s Emergency Department:
* Nearly half (30,935) of patients were discharged with no further treatment required
* Nearly a third (20,855) of patients were admitted to hospital
* One in six (1,261) of the children under the age of five who attended were admitted
* Two thirds (4,911) were discharged with no further treatment required
* Two thirds (9,833) of the patients aged over 65 were admitted
* Nearly one in four (3,400) were discharged with no further treatment required
* 3,282 patients left Peterborough’s Emergency Department before either being seen or refused to be treated.
Neil Doverty, Chief Operating Officer at Peterborough and Stamford Hospitals said, “It is important to dissect these figures to understand why attendances were so high, and to put into context the number of patients who left the hospital without being seen or treated.
“For example, it is likely a high proportion of these patients didn’t require emergency treatment and therefore could have been seen elsewhere. In these instances, the department becomes extremely busy and the concern is that waiting times increase for those patients who really do need more urgent attention.
“Therefore, we support and encourage the message for all patients to choose wisely before coming to the emergency department, especially as a walk-in patient. This will allow for those patients who are more seriously unwell, to be seen and treated as quickly as possible, and reduce waiting times.”
There are a wide range of alternative services available locally. Pharmacies are a quick and easy way to get medical help and medication, and are an underused NHS service. They can give useful advice on common ailments and they can provide emergency contraception.
GPs can advise on, and treat, a variety of problems. Anyone with a long-term problem such as back pain or a persistent cough should make an appointment to see their GP. Residents are urged to phone their GP practice to find out what’s available to them before taking themselves to the emergency department. Many practices now offer telephone, face to face, and online consultations.
NHS 111 is open 24/7, every day of the year. Whether a resident needs help with finding a nearby NHS service or is unsure where to get medical help, calling 111 should be their first point of call. NHS 111 can also direct to out of hour GP services.
There are also three minor illness and injury units in Cambridgeshire open over the Bank Holiday; these are located in Peterborough, Ely and Doddington. From helping with strains, sprains, burns or scalds, most minor conditions can be treated here. Some offer xrays too but check with the individual minor injury unit.
Information on pharmacies open over the Bank Holiday in Cambridgeshire is available at www.england.nhs.uk/mids-east/our-work/pharm-info