Hospital bosses are strongly urging people to help their local Accident and Emergency departments across Coventry and Warwickshire which are all currently very busy.
The pressure, affecting all acute hospitals in the West Midlands, has meant that University Hospitals Coventry & Warwickshire NHS Trust has postponed some elective surgery and outpatient appointments to allow the Trust to deal with the large numbers of patients the hospitals are seeing currently.
Yesterday (Monday) the Trust had its busiest ever day with 626 people attending the Emergency Department.
David Eltringham, Chief Operating Officer from University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust, said: “We are seeing a huge increase in the number of patients that are presenting at our Emergency Department and these are taking time to be seen and treated as some cases are complex. At the same time we are regularly seeing people come to the Emergency Department with conditions that can be seen and treated elsewhere in the community.”
Members of the public can also help local hospitals by not attending hospital if they are suffering from flu-like symptoms or from diarrhoea and vomiting. Staying away from hospitals will help stop the spread of these illnesses.
There are other NHS services which can help those with less urgent health needs and those who have flu or norovirus (diarrhoea and vomiting) symptoms. The NHS ‘Choose Well’ campaign encourages people to make the right choice when it comes to health services, particularly when services are busy.
Dr Adrian Canale-Parola, Chair of NHS Coventry and Rugby Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “It’s really important that people are aware of which services are available and how you can help to keep our A&E departments free to focus on genuine accidents and emergencies. Your local pharmacies and NHS Direct should be your first port of call if you need to get treatment or you can also contact your local GP. Pharmacies provide a range of services and can offer first hand advice about minor ailments such as: colds, coughs, sore throats, indigestion, minor cuts and bruises. There’s plenty of information available on our website and people can also call NHS Direct on 0845 46 47 to get advice.”
So how do you know if it’s an emergency? An emergency is a life threatening or critical situation such as a suspected heart attack, chest pain, unconsciousness, heavy blood loss, suspected broken bones, deep wounds such as stab wounds, severe breathing difficulties or a head injury. Attend A&E or call 999 if you are suffering from any of these.
For non-emergencies, there are a lot of services to help you. For most winter ailments such as coughs and colds, the local pharmacist is the best place to go or you can contact your GP. NHS Direct is available to advise you 24 hours a day all year round, 365 days a year call 0845 4647 or visit www.nhsdirect.nhs.uk