People are being urged to stop and think before using their nearest Emergency Department (ED) over the New Year period.
Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is asking the public to help them ensure their Emergency Department at Blackpool Victoria Hospital is left to be able to deal with those patients that need urgent and lifesaving treatment.
Prof Mark O’Donnell, Medical Director at the Trust, said: “The winter season always leads to extra pressure on our Emergency Departments and the Christmas and New Year holidays, even more so.
“This means it is more important than ever that people think very carefully about whether their injury or illness really is an accident or an emergency, as for many people there are alternatives to attending an Emergency Department that can help them get the right treatment more easily and quickly.
“Some people think that because we are open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, they will be seen more quickly but all patients are assessed and those people who have a minor illness or injury will have to wait until patients who are more seriously ill or injured are seen first.
“When it comes to your health, or the health of someone in your family, it is often very obvious if the person is seriously ill and needs emergency care. In those cases, you should always seek urgent medical attention by phoning 999 for an emergency ambulance.
“On the other hand, those people who turn up in the ED with minor ailments, including sprains, coughs and colds, should really consider whether they would be better off seeking help and advice from a pharmacist in the first place.”
An emergency is a critical or a life-threatening situation, such as:
- Suspected heart attack
- Chest pain
- Heavy blood loss
- Suspected broken bones
- Deep wounds such as stab wounds
- Severe breathing difficulties
- Head injuries
If the situation is less critical and you are unsure of what course of action to take, you can always seek medical advice by ringing the NHS 111 advice line.
Prof O’Donnell added: “We’re obviously not telling those people in urgent need of medical attention to not attend our EDs, but simply asking people to consider whether they actually need to go to an ED or whether they can be seen and treated elsewhere. It should be remembered that although your own GP surgery may be closed, there will be an Emergency GP available.
“We need to ensure that our EDs are free to treat those people that are seriously ill and the public’s support in this makes a huge difference.
“Whilst they are no doubt uncomfortable, most common aches, pains and winter illnesses will begin to clear up by themselves within a few days so there really is no need to make a GP appointment, call 999 or go to the ED. If you need advice, your high-street pharmacy is your expert and you can search for self-care advice online on NHS Choices.”