“Think! Why A&E?” That is the question patients across the Fylde coast are being asked as part of a new campaign.
To raise awareness of healthcare services, the campaign featuring six highly identifiable cartoon characters, has been devised by NHS Blackpool Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), NHS Fylde and Wyre CCG and Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust to encourage people to choose the right NHS service for them and their families according to their symptoms.
It will reinforce the crucial message that A&E is for emergencies and life-threatening illnesses only, 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 someone is seriously ill or injured, and their life is at risk then 999 should be called.
Many people attend emergency service departments with minor ailments which could be better treated elsewhere. This puts extra demands on already pressured emergency departments, particularly during the winter period.
Coughs colds, sore throats, vomiting and other minor ailments such as sprains, do not necessarily require a trip to see a health professional. There is a range of alternative and more appropriate treatment options, such as:
- Self care – Minor illnesses, ailments and injuries can be treated at home. Coughs, colds, sore throats, upset stomachs and aches and pains can be treated with a well-stocked medicine cabinet and plenty of rest.
- Pharmacy – Pharmacists offer a range of health services. As well as dispensing prescriptions and other medicines, your pharmacy can provide free confidential expert advice and treatment for a variety of common illnesses and complaints, without having to book a GP appointment. You can find your nearest pharmacy by visiting the ‘services near you’ section of nhs.uk.
- NHS 111 – This is a free telephone service, available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You should call 111 if you urgently need medical help or information, but your situation is not life-threatening. When you dial 111, you will be directed to the best local services to make sure you get fast and effective treatment.
- Walk-in or same day centres – These centres provide consultations, guidance and treatment for minor injuries and illnesses, as well as emergency contraception and sexual health advice. There are two centres on the Fylde coast, (locations can be found at www.whyaande.nhs.uk) both operating seven days a week from 8am onwards.
- GP surgery – If you have an illness or injury that won’t go away, make an appointment with your GP. They provide a range of services by appointment, and when absolutely essential, can make home visits. If you need to see a GP outside of the surgery’s normal opening hours, telephone the surgery and your call will be forwarded to the GP out-of-hours service.
Blackpool GP and chief clinical officer of NHS Blackpool CCG, Dr Amanda Doyle, said: “There are often more appropriate alternatives which can help people get the right treatment more easily and quicker.
“We aren’t telling people who are in need of urgent medical attention not to attend our emergency departments but ask people to consider whether they actually need to go or could be seen and treated elsewhere.
“Pharmacists and the NHS 111 service are excellent alternatives that people can contact should they need any advice on minor ailments.”
Dr Tony Naughton, Thornton GP and clinical chief officer of NHS Fylde and Wyre CCG, said: “With people’s help we can reduce the pressure on busy emergency departments and ensure those who do need it are treated quickly.
“We want people to be better aware of the alternative services on offer to them and assess whether they actually need immediate urgent care before seeking it.”
Prof Mark O’Donnell, medical director at Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “For the past few years we have seen a year on year increase in the number of people using emergency NHS services. We are asking people for their support, to make sure that we can give urgent and emergency care to those people who need it.
“Every minute that an A&E doctor spends treating very minor problems reduces the time they can spend attending to those who have suffered heart attacks, strokes and life-threatening injuries.”
Residents can now also visit the specially designed www.whyaande.nhs.uk website for information and advice on what to do if they, or a loved one, falls ill or gets injured.
For further information please contact the media team on 01772 214213.