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North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust - 70 years of the NHS


Home > News > Keep calm this Christmas and help ease pressure on busy A&E teams

Keep calm this Christmas and help ease pressure on busy A&E teams

Posted on Tuesday 16th December 2014
A and E staff

Patients across North and West Cumbria are being reminded about the importance of using the right NHS service for the severity of their symptoms to help ease pressure on extremely busy A&E departments this Christmas. 

Local A&E departments are increasingly busy all year round and North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust has seen almost a 4 per cent rise in attendances at its emergency departments in the past two years alone. Every year around two million people across the country who go to A&E could either look after themselves properly at home by practising good self-care or could have been treated elsewhere in the community.

As winter illnesses start to circulate widely amongst communities, local A&E teams are keen to remind people that A&E is for life threatening emergencies such as people suffering heart attacks, strokes and breathing problems. People with minor conditions are being advised to consider other options so that A&E teams can concentrate on providing the fastest possible treatment for those who are seriously ill and need it the most.

Dr Peter Weaving, GP clinical director and clinical director for emergency care at the Trust, said: “Our A&E departments are busy all year round but winter always brings an extra pressure with more germs circulating which is why we are asking people to consider the most appropriate service to help them get the right treatment quickly.

“Before you come to A&E, please take a moment to think carefully about whether you could be treated elsewhere. Diarrhoea and vomiting, colds and flu are all unpleasant but in the majority of cases these illnesses can be treated at home with rest and plenty of fluids. Your local high street pharmacy can give expert, fast and confidential advice and treatment for many common complaints and can refer you on to other services if needed. Attending A&E with these conditions will only spread germs amongst other more vulnerable and seriously ill patients.

“If you are suffering from cold or flu and feel that your symptoms are getting worse and don’t clear up after a few days, telephone your local GP surgery or out of hours service for advice.

“For those people who have long term conditions such as asthma, diabetes and heart disease, talk to your GP or specialist nurse about care planning for your own particular circumstances if your condition should worsen.”

“Equally, anyone suffering from diarrhoea or vomiting should not visit friends or relatives in hospital until they have been symptom free for at least 48 hours as they risk passing on the illness to those who are already unwell.

To help prevent the spread of bugs in hospital, visitors are asked to follow this advice:

• Do not visit friends or relatives in hospital if you feel unwell

• If you develop norovirus i.e. diarrhoea or vomiting, stay away from hospital until you have been free of symptoms for at least 48 hours

• Wash hands regularly with soap and water – hand wash basins are provided at patients bays

• Use chairs provided – do not sit on beds

• Limit visitors to two per patient and avoid bringing very young children who may be vulnerable to infection

Dr David Rogers, NHS Cumbria Clinical Commissioning Group’s medical director, said: “Winter weather means more slips and trips – and generally more of us feeling unwell as we spend more time indoors and coughs, colds and other viruses are passed around our family, friends and colleagues at work.

“This all adds up to more of us having an accident or becoming unwell with a winter bug, meaning more people want to see their GP, attend accident and emergency or call 999.

“However, there is no need to panic as most normally healthy people with a winter illness do not need to see their GP or attend A&E – so our message this winter is ‘keep calm’.

“Most ailments can be treated at home or with the advice of your local pharmacist, with pain killers, rest and plenty of fluids. By doing this not only are you helping to reduce the spread of winter viruses to other vulnerable patients in NHS waiting rooms – you are also keeping appointments available for people who have serious health conditions that must see a doctor or nurse.”

There are further details available at The Keep Calm website which has information on common winter illnesses, what the symptoms are, how to treat them and how long they will last. It includes advice on what to keep in your winter medicines cabinet so you can be ready to treat illnesses as they start.  Visit for more information.