Keep A&E for emergencies only – this is the stark message from Luton Clinical Commissioning Group (LCCG) this week, as the inclement weather puts extra pressures on NHS acute services in the Luton area.
Earlier this month (6 December), LCCG carried out a day-long assessment to find out the demands and key issues that staff at the Emergency Department at Luton & Dunstable Hospital are facing on a daily basis. It also included an audit of the reasons behind the public’s attendances.
During the day, 306 people attended the A&E department wanting treatment. From that figure, 122 were diverted for more appropriate treatment to the Urgent GP Care service based on-site at the hospital. Around 50% of those people attending the A&E department did not have issues requiring an A&E assessment and would have been appropriate for an appointment at their GP practice.
Dr Chirag Bakhai, Clinical Director for Urgent Care for Luton CCG, said: “The assessments carried out on the day strongly suggested that the A&E Department in Luton is not being used for emergencies only. The expertise and limited time of clinicians working in A&E seems to be inappropriately taken up by people with non-urgent problems. This impacts upon others who are in real need of emergency medical care.”
Attendances on the assessment day included:
> People with colds
> Simple sore throats
> A sore shoulder for a few weeks
Plus, many others which could have been more appropriately dealt with by self-care at home, visiting a pharmacist or calling NHS111 for advice.
A&E departments are for emergencies only. If you think you need to go to A&E but you are not sure, call 111. Calls are free from landlines and mobiles. A healthcare professional will give you advice and direct you to the most appropriate service.
You can also call them if you don’t know who to call for medical help and your surgery is closed, if you don’t have a GP to call, or if you need medical advice or reassurance about what to do next.