A&E isn’t for ‘anything and everything’ warns NHS Wiltshire

NHS Wiltshire is urging members of the public to think twice about attending A&E, as emergency departments across the county continue to face unnecessary challenges and extreme pressure.

Over the past two weeks in particular the pressure on all three of our district general hospitals has been intense.

Speaking on behalf of NHS Wiltshire Clinical Commissioning Group, Tracey Cox, Acting Accountable Officer said:
“Emergency departments right across the region continue to be extremely busy. We are asking people to not use A&E departments unnecessarily and to think about the impact this has on the NHS.

“Too many of the attendances the region’s hospitals are regularly seeing are for common winter illnesses such as bad colds, viruses and stomach bugs. These are best looked after at home with over the counter medication, plenty of fluids, rest and recuperation – they certainly do not need a trip to A&E.”

Wiltshire Clinical Commissioning Group is asking patients, families and carers to carefully consider whether a trip to A&E is the right course of action for their ailment, or whether other healthcare services, or even self-care is more appropriate.

Dr Peter Jenkins, Chair of Wiltshire CCG said,
“We recognise that knowing which services to access for health advice and treatment can seem a little confusing. There are numerous ways for you to get healthcare advice and treatment and knowing what health services are available when you start to feel ill, will help you to manage your condition quicker.”

Because it’s confusing, people very often go straight to a hospital or to a GP regardless of their healthcare requirements. To help you understand the range of healthcare services available and to help you make the right decision about where to go for treatment, Wiltshire CCG has produced an easy to use ‘Around the clock healthcare in Wiltshire’ leaflet available to download from their website.

Mrs Cox adds:
“When we are able to make the right decision on the type of treatment we need, we’re actively helping to ease the strain on a pressured NHS by taking personal responsibility for our health. Recognising when you don’t need to go to A&E means hospital staff can focus on caring for those who really do need immediate and potentially lifesaving help.”

Helping you make the right decision about where to go for health care in Wiltshire

Wiltshire Clinical Commissioning Group is helping local people to make the right decision about where to go for healthcare treatment with the help of an easy to use clock.

Dr Peter Jenkins, Chair of Wiltshire CCG said,
“We recognise that knowing which services to access for health advice and treatment can seem a little confusing. There are numerous ways for you to get healthcare advice and treatment and knowing what health services are available when you start to feel ill, will help you to manage your condition quicker.”

Because it’s confusing, people very often go straight to a hospital or to a GP regardless of their healthcare requirements. To help you understand the range of healthcare services available and to help you make the right decision about where to go for treatment, Wiltshire CCG has produced an easy to use “Around the clock healthcare in Wiltshire’ leaflet available to download from their website.

Around the clock healthcare in Wiltshire

NHS 111 – Free non-emergency number where trained callers will listen to your symptoms and direct you to the best medical care for you and is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year

NHS Choices – UK’s biggest health website for information and advice

GP out of hours – available from 6.30pm until 8am on weekdays and all day at weekends and bank holidays. Call your GP practice to access the service

Minor Injury Unit – treats minor injuries that are not life-threatening e.g. cuts, bites, stings and simple fractures

Pharmacy – experts in medicine and can give you advice on common ailments and are a potential alternative to a GP visit

GP – if you have a condition that can’t be treated with over the counter medication or advice from a pharmacist, make an appointment to see your GP

A&E – for genuine life-threatening emergencies only and is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year

When we are able to make the right decision on the type of treatment we need, we’re actively helping to ease the strain on a pressured NHS by taking personal responsibility for our health. This helps free up time for doctors and healthcare professionals allowing them to focus on those people who need their services the most.

Missed appointments in Wiltshire top 31,000 in just five months

Between July and November 2016, more than 31,000 GP, nurse and healthcare assistant appointments were missed across Wiltshire’s 55 GP Practices – the equivalent of over 1,033 days of general practitioner time.

Dr Peter Jenkins, Chair of Wiltshire Clinical Commissioning Group said:
“We are urging patients to cancel their appointments if they are no longer required, or if they are unable to attend. Practices will then be able to offer these appointments to other patients who need them and will help to reduce waiting times.

“The number of missed appointments across Wiltshire averages around 6,000 every month, a shocking statistic that is exacerbated during the winter months when practices typically face an increase in patient demand for appointments.”

Known as ‘Did Not Attends’, missed appointments have a huge impact on the health economy, prevent other patients from being seen and waste the time of ever-stretched doctors and nurses. In Wiltshire, this boils down to a potential 6,000 patients missing out on an opportunity to be seen each month.

Dr Richard Sandford-Hill, a GP from Market Lavington Surgery, explains:
“On average a GP will conduct 30 appointments per day and based on the total number of missed appointments for July – November 2016, that’s the equivalent of 1,033 days of general practitioner time that has been lost.

“It’s no secret that NHS resources are stretched to the hilt, which is why it’s really important that people understand the impact they have if they simply do not turn up. Everyone has responsibility to look after the NHS – it’s tax payers money after all – and we urge Wiltshire people to cancel their unwanted appointments so that those most in need are able to be seen more quickly”.

Health bosses warn public to think twice before attending A&E

Health bosses in Wiltshire have issued a stark warning to members of the public who are misusing emergency NHS services, putting unnecessary pressure on hospitals and putting more seriously ill patients at risk. 

Between 31 December and 8 January 2017, just over 5,000 people attended A&E departments at Royal United Hospital, Bath, Great Western Hospital in Swindon and Salisbury District Hospital, yet only 33% of those people actually needed urgent or emergency treatment.

Over the last month, people have attended A&E departments with minor ailments which are not serious or life-threatening, including examples such as:

  • Coughs, colds and sore throats
  • Toothache
  • Sickness and diarrhoea
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Backache
  • Broken finger nails
Speaking on behalf of NHS Wiltshire CCG, Tracey Cox, Acting Accountable Officer said:
“Emergency departments right across the region are extremely busy and people must start taking accountability for their actions and the impact this has on the NHS. 

“Our message is very simple: if it is not a serious or life threatening emergency then please do not waste the time of busy hospital teams or 999 services who are there to look after patients who are very sick and who do need immediate medical help.

“Many of the attendances the region’s hospitals are seeing are for common winter illnesses such as bad colds, viruses or stomach bugs which always circulate in the community at this time of year. These are best looked after at home with over the counter medication, plenty of fluids, rest and recuperation – they certainly do not need a trip to A&E.” 

The NHS always sees a rise in emergency admissions to hospital at this time of year, particularly amongst older people, who are much more susceptible to serious illness or injury during the cold winter months.  For every inappropriate A&E attendance the attention of hospital staff is pulled away from caring for those who really do need immediate and potentially lifesaving help.

Mrs Cox added:
“Our emergency system is without doubt the best in the world but we need to keep it that way and keep 999 and emergency care free to do what the NHS does best.  The system is under extraordinary pressure, so we are appealing to the public today and for everyone to really think about how to use services.  All our staff are working really hard to get back on track, but people can help us to ease the pressures by, for example, offering friends and family members a lift to and from appointments, and supporting their loved ones at home with extra care and attention to ensure they can be discharged from hospital when medically fit.  This will help hospitals to free up beds so that the NHS is able to admit and treat the most vulnerable people who need our care the most”.

“We appreciate that, regrettably, some patients are having elective operations and appointments cancelled during this period of sustained escalation. We completely understand that this is likely to cause additional inconvenience and distress but patients should be assured they will have their operation or appointment rebooked as soon as possible, and will be contacted directly”.

Dr Peter Jenkins, GP and Chair of NHS Wiltshire Clinical Commissioning Group said:
“Your GP should always be the first port of call for most medical problems unless it is a serious or life threatening emergency.  If in doubt, the free NHS 111 number is available 24/7 for medical advice. 

“If you have made a GP appointment which you don’t need any more, we urge you to cancel.  If you don’t, you prevent other patients from being seen and waste the time of ever-stretched doctors and nurses. In Wiltshire, this boils down to a potential 6,000 patients missing out on an opportunity to be seen each month.  So please make sure you let your practice know if you can’t attend – practices will then be able to offer these appointments to other patients who need them”.

“The number of missed appointments across Wiltshire averages around 6,000 every month, a shocking statistic especially at a time when practices are struggling to meet patient demand for appointments.  It’s really important that people understand the impact they have if they simply do not turn up. Everyone has responsibility to look after the NHS – it’s patients’ money after all – and we urge Wiltshire people to cancel their unwanted appointments so that those most in need are able to be seen more quickly”.

Healthcare leaders in B&NES, Swindon and Wiltshire are also backing the national Stay Well This Winter campaign which encourages people to look after themselves well www.nhs.uk/staywell.

NHS Wiltshire pleads ‘help us to help you’

NHS Wiltshire is urging patients to ‘help us to help you’ as they are currently experiencing unprecedented challenges and extreme pressure at A&E Departments across the county.

Wiltshire Clinical Commissioning Group is asking patients, families and carers to carefully consider whether a trip to A&E is the right course of action for their ailment, or whether other healthcare services, or even self-care is more appropriate.

Dr Rob Matthews, GP at Spa Medical Centre explains:
“Our region’s hospitals are currently seeing an overwhelming number of people who are attending because they have common winter illnesses such as bad colds, viruses or stomach bugs and also for things like excessive alcohol consumption, broken finger nails and toothache. These ailments can and should be looked after at home with over the counter medication, plenty of fluids, rest and recuperation – they certainly do not need a trip to A&E.”

NHS Wiltshire wants patients to help by taking personal responsibility for their healthcare where they can and accessing the right healthcare service at the right time when required. For medical help and advice on where to go if it is not an emergency then the free NHS 111 number is available 24/7. Pharmacists are experts in many areas of healthcare and can also offer advice on a wide range of conditions and common illnesses such as coughs, colds and stomach upsets. GPs should always be the first port of call for most medical problems – unless it is a serious or life threatening emergency and then A&E is the right place to go.

With increased pressure across the system people are also asked to:

  • Cancel unwanted medical appointments, so that others who need them can be seen more quickly.
  • Offer to drive a family member or friend home from hospital
  • Keep a well-stocked medicine cabinet to be able to treat yourself at home for minor illnesses
  • Make sure elderly relatives are warm and have supplies in case of bad weather
Peter Jenkins, Chair of Wiltshire Clinical Commissioning Group adds:
“We need patients to take responsibility for making the right decision about where to go for healthcare advice. Every year the NHS makes the same plea to the public and every year we continue to see inappropriate A&E attendances rise. We prepare for increases in attendance over the winter, because we expect that to happen, however when patients are turning up to A&E when they don’t need to be there it adds significant pressure to an already challenging situation.”

Wiltshire leads the way with child and adolescent mental healthcare services

Wiltshire’s developments in mental healthcare services for local children and young people are highlighted as leading the way, following the Prime Minister’s announcement to overhaul mental health in the UK.

In her latest speech at the Charity Commission, Teresa May outlined her intentions to transform attitudes to mental health with a focus on young people, including every secondary school to be offered mental health first aid training. 

Ted Wilson, Community and Joint Commissioning Director for Wiltshire Clinical Commissioning Group said:
“We welcome today’s announcement from Teresa May with regards to a stronger focus on mental health for the younger generation. It’s one of many areas in which we have been working hard to develop new initiatives for Wiltshire and we’re proud to see that we are already ahead of the game in some areas. We believe today’s news will enhance future mental healthcare services for local children and young people.”  
Julia Cramp, Associate Director, Wiltshire Council (joint with Wiltshire CCG) said:
“Working in partnership across Wiltshire Council and Wiltshire CCG, we are already delivering a Youth Mental Health First Aid training programme across our schools and have recently invested in expanding the number of local trainers. Furthermore, through our innovative Thrive Hub project, we are working to implement school based mental health services by giving more secondary schools easier access to CAMHS support through a named mental health worker.’

Working together for Marlborough and Pewsey patients

Marlborough and Pewsey surgeries are inviting their patients and members of the public to meetings to hear from local doctors about the proposed merger between Marlborough Medical Practice and Pewsey Surgery.

The meetings are being held on:

  • Tuesday 24th January 2017 from 6pm until 7.30pm
    Bouverie Hall, North Street, Pewsey
  • Wednesday 25th January 2017 from 6pm until 7.30pm
    Assembly Rooms, Town Hall, High Street, Marlborough

The proposal is for both practices to remain open and for GP appointments to continue to be provided from both sites.

The merger is expected to take effect in the Spring 2017 and sharing resources will give some 18,000 patients access to more flexible services. For more information, see our press release.