Don’t clog up hospital A&E with non-emergencies, Barking GPs urge

Up to four out of every 10 patients calling in at hospital A&E departments are clogging up waiting rooms with non-emergency conditions and delaying treatment for more life-threatening illnesses, according to GPs.

Now a campaign has been started by Barking & Dagenham Commissioning Group urging people to get “more appropriate care” at GP surgeries, walk-in clinics and even the local chemist, rather than go to hospital.

“A&E shouldn’t automatically be the place to go for any problem,” warns Commissioning Group chair Dr Waseem Mohi. “It’s only for the most serious, life-threatening cases.

“Inappropriate use of A&E increases waiting times for those genuinely in need of urgent medical attention.”

Up to 40 per cent of visits to A&E end up with the patient just receiving advice or guidance rather than actual treatment, the Commissioning group points out.

Mary Feeney-Chirgwin, A&E Matron at Barking, Havering and Redbridge NHS Trust, said: “We treat people strictly in order of their clinical need. So if it isn’t a serious medical emergency, patients could get faster treatment without coming to the hospital.”

Local GPs are trying to ease the pressure on hospitals with community teams providing short-term intensive treatment in the home and by creating 25,000 more surgery appointments.

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They are advising “self care” through the winter with healthy eating, exercise, keeping wrapped up outdoors, keeping the home warm and even stocking up on basic over-the-counter medicines such as paracetamol, aspirin, ibuprofen decongestant and aspirin.