Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust is continuing to remind people living across Northumberland and North Tyneside to use NHS services appropriately and to keep urgent and emergency care free for those who need these services most.
The trust has experienced its busiest winter on record, with 9,000 more people accessing urgent and emergency care services between January and March 2016 compared to the same period in 2015.
In total, the trust recorded over 43,000 urgent and emergency care attendances during the first quarter of 2016 – 55% at the new Northumbria hospital and 45% at urgent care centres in Hexham, North Tyneside and Wansbeck. Only 26% required emergency hospital admission.
The trust is calling upon the public to act responsibly when it comes to using NHS services and, crucially, to keep The Northumbria hospital free for those who are seriously ill or injured and who clearly require immediate medical help.
Over the past three months the trust has repeatedly highlighted many examples of inappropriate attendances at The Northumbria hospital which have put additional pressure on exceptionally busy frontline teams who are there to care for those who are seriously ill or injured.
People should not attend the new Northumbria hospital for sore throats, small cuts, or for on-going medical problems which are best looked after in primary care via their GP or, simply, by looking after themselves well, practising good self-care, or talking to a pharmacist for advice.
Dr Chris Biggin, clinical director for emergency care at Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We’d urge the public to help us by using the right service for the severity of their symptoms and acting responsibility when using the NHS. Our message is really quite simple – please do not attend The Northumbria hospital for any minor ailments which are not serious emergencies as our teams are very busy looking after very poorly people.
“There are many other appropriate places to seek help for minor problems including your local pharmacy where expert help is readily available with no appointment necessary.
“If you cannot look after yourself by practising good self-care, or feel you cannot wait for a GP appointment, our urgent care centres are open 24/7 and are the place to go if you have any minor injuries. You will be seen more promptly without having to wait behind serious emergencies with the majority of patients seen, treated and on their way home in less than one and a half hours.”
The trust’s chief executive, Mr David Evans, has this week thanked all staff, on behalf of the trust board, for their efforts during what he described as a ‘huge’ and ‘intense’ increase in demand.
Mr Evans said: “The scale of this increased and intense demand for services, not only at Northumbria but across the whole of the NHS, has been huge over the past few months and the response from our teams has been quite exceptional.
“This is also the first year of our new model of emergency care and whilst we continue to embed these changes, we must not lose sight of the many positive benefits for patient care which are already clear. Rapid results of tests and scans, early decision-making from emergency medicine consultants who are on site 24/7 and input from consultant specialists who work seven days, means our emergency patients are beginning their treatment much sooner than ever before.
“We continue to work closely with all partners to embed our new model of emergency care and make sure that patients, the public and our partners in primary care understand how to make best use of our urgent and emergency care services. We are also listening, intently, to all feedback so that we can continue to improve the quality of care we provide.”
ADVICE FOR THE PUBLIC
ASK YOUR PHARMACIST
• Pharmacists are experts in many aspects of healthcare and can offer advice on a wide range of long-term conditions and common illnesses such as coughs, colds and upset stomachs. You don’t need an appointment and many have private consultation areas, so they are a good first port of call. Your pharmacist will say if you need further medical attention.
THINK GP FIRST
• If your problem is not urgent and has been present for a while, speak to your GP who will refer you to the right specialist for treatment – please do not attend urgent or emergency care for on-going problems
USE URGENT CARE
• Dial NHS 111 if you urgently need medical help or advice but it’s not a life-threatening situation. NHS 111 will be able to advice on the most appropriate place to access NHS help. This is particularly useful at weekends when GP practices are closed and when we traditionally see the number of inappropriate attendances.
• If you are worried about a child, particularly babies, always call ahead using the NHS 111 service available 24/7.
• For urgent dental problems, such as dental abscesses, people should contact their own dental practice, or if it’s out-of-hours, call NHS 111.
• Urgent care centres are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week at Hexham, North Tyneside and Wansbeck general hospitals and can see and treat walk-in patients for a variety of urgent but non-life threatening conditions. Our staff will be able to see and treat you quickly and you will not be waiting behind more serious emergencies. Minor injury services are also available in Alnwick, Berwick, Blyth and Haltwhistle.
The Northumbria hospital treats serious emergencies such as:
• Suspected stroke
• Loss of consciousness
• Persistent and severe chest pain
• Sudden shortness of breath
• Severe abdominal pain
• Severe blood loss
Most patients arrive by blue light ambulance or via emergency GP admission.
If you have a serious life threatening emergency, call 999 for an emergency ambulance. In a 999 emergency, ambulance paramedics will take you to the most appropriate hospital.