It seems like every winter the same reports come out about the struggle A&E departments are facing to see patients within the four hour target time. Sadly it is no different this year and as this article sets out; the result is a that serious or urgent cases might be missed.
I have written previously about the need to ensure treatment is provided promptly as delays treating serious conditions can result in life-changing injuries or even death.
I am therefore encouraging everyone to think carefully about whether you need to attend A&E this winter to try and help ensure that the most serious conditions and injuries are able to be treated in time.
The NHS recommends different options to A&E depending on your condition, I have set out the recommendations below which I hope will encourage people to choose the right option for their condition and ensure those with the most serious conditions can be seen promptly in A&E.
Emergency departments (A&E) are for patients requiring emergency care for serious and life-threatening conditions. Examples include people with chest pain or blood loss, or who are blacking out or choking.
Urgent Care and Walk-in Centres
Many trusts provide either an urgent care centre or walk-in centre. They provide fast medical treatment and advice for patients with injuries which are urgent but do not need a visit to A&E. They can also be used when you can’t wait for an appointment with your GP. These centres treat injuries and illnesses such as cuts, sprains and strains, broken bones, minor burns and scalds, minor head and eye injuries, bites and stings.
You are recommended to make an appointment with your local GP when you have an illness or injury that will not go away, including persistent vomiting, ear pain, stomach ache or back ache. Registering with a GP is free and means you can make an appointment with a doctor for medical advice, examinations and prescriptions. For help finding your nearest GP, use the online search on www.nhs.uk or call 0300 311 22 33. If you need to see a GP urgently when your practice is closed, call 111 for fast medical advice.
Your local pharmacist can give you advice about over-the-counter medicines that can help with lots of common conditions such as diarrhoea, a runny nose, a painful cough or a headache, without the need for an appointment. As well as dispensing prescriptions, pharmacists provide a range of services related to specific health issues and can advise on minor ailments such as colds, skin conditions and allergies. For help finding your nearest pharmacist, use the online search on www.nhs.uk or call 0300 311 22 33.
The NHS advised that a lot of common illnesses can be treated at home by using over-the-counter medicine and getting plenty of rest. Self-care is considered to be the best choice to treat very minor illnesses and injuries. For more information about looking after yourself and recommendations for over-the-counter medicines visit www.nhs.uk.
Hannah Bottomley is a clinical negligence solicitor here at Potter Rees Dolan. Should you have any queries about clinical negligence issues or indeed any other aspect of this article and wish to speak to Hannah or any other member of the team please contact us on 0161 237 5888 or email Hannah directly.