With pressure mounting on the region’s hospitals due to coronavirus, health leaders in the North East are appealing to the public to only attend A&E or call 999 if they have serious or life-threatening emergencies.
As cases of the virus continue to increase in the area, the NHS is asking people with less serious conditions to seek alternatives to just turning up at their local hospital’s A&E.
The plea is part of the region’s #DoYourBit campaign aimed at raising awareness of the first routes people should take for urgent medical advice and treatment – their pharmacy, GP and NHS 111.
The public is being asked to use NHS services sensibly and keep A&E and 999 free for people who need it most such as those who are experiencing loss of consciousness, breathing difficulties or chest pain.
This year A&E departments are coming under even more pressure than usual due to social distancing and infection control precautions, which mean the space available to care for people and allow NHS staff to work safely has been reduced by between 30 and 50 per cent.
Professor Chris Gray, clinical lead for the North East and North Cumbria Integrated Care System, said:
“Even though our lives are very different at the moment with the second national lockdown, the message from the region’s NHS remains unchanged – only go to A&E or call 999 if it is a serious, life-threatening emergency. People must think pharmacy, GP or 111 first, and not just turn up to A&E regardless.
“This is a particularly important message this winter with the NHS under pressure with coronavirus and departments needing to adhere to strict social distancing and infection control procedures in order to keep everyone safe.
“Many people who come into A&E could have been dealt with much more quickly and safely by an alternative healthcare service and we would urge the public to do your bit to help the region’s NHS.”
By thinking of alternative services such as pharmacy, GP and 111 first people can do their bit to help stop the spread of coronavirus, keep people safe and keep A&E for real emergencies.
NHS 111 online is a hugely useful system for the public and through this service direct appointments at surgeries, pharmacies and urgent treatment centres can be made. They can also send an ambulance for serious or life-threatening issues.
You can find more information on the #DoYourBit campaign here: https://www.doyourbit-nenc.co.uk/use-services-sensibly
The public is also being asked to attend hospital sites on their own, where possible, to limit the number of people on site and reduce the risk of infection to other patients and hospital staff.
It’s also important to note that the public should not access Covid-19 testing through A&E.