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Home > News > Think twice this winter and help ease pressure on busy A&E teams

Think twice this winter and help ease pressure on busy A&E teams

Posted on Tuesday 28th October 2014
A and E staff

A&E team at the Cumberland Infirmary

With winter now fast approaching, 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 busy A&E departments.

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.

As the dark nights draw in and 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. 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 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 these days 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.

“Diarrhoea and vomiting, colds and flu are all unpleasant but in the majority of cases these illnesses can be treated at home with rest, plenty of fluids and some over the counter medication from your pharmacist. 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.

“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.”

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.

Whilst A&E will always be there for life-threatening, serious emergencies, for minor conditions and illnesses, a range of NHS services are available including high street pharmacies, GP practices and walk-in centres at local community hospitals.

Dr Weaving added: “I would encourage local people to make sure that they choose the right service and help our teams to cope over the winter months. Our A&E teams look after thousands of people who have life-threatening conditions such as those suffering heart attacks, strokes and breathing problems, plus those who have been involved in serious accidents. We need to ensure that we can concentrate on helping these emergency cases.

“Before you come to A&E, take a moment to think carefully about whether you could be treated elsewhere. 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.

“Also, 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.”

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