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Keep A&E for genuine emergencies
6:00am Tuesday 3rd December 2013 in News
NORTH Essex residents who have fallen ill have been urged to think twice before they go to accident and emergency.
The North East Essex NHS clinical commissioning group has launched its winter health guide telling people where to go for urgent treatment.
In the past month, waiting times for treatment at Colchester General Hospital’s A&E department have increased due to the start of colder weather and Colchester’s cancer crisis.
Health bosses say if you do not have a “critical or life-threatening”
condition, there are a range of alternatives to A&E where people are likely to be treated after a much shorter wait.
Minor injury units at Clacton Hospital and Fryatt Hospital in Dovercourt can treat cuts, sprains and fractures, while Colchester’s walk-in centre in Turner Road has GPs on hand for ear pain, vomiting, or back aches.
A new online campaign at www.getwellessex.com tells visitors: “A&E won’t kiss it better.
We only deal with real emergencies.”
The campaign stresses the fact one in four people who go toA&E could have been treated elsewhere or at home.
Tracy Buckingham, the group’s head of transformation and development, said: “Wewant to make sure patients try to access the right services.
“We understand they are complex, but there are lots of alternatives to A&E.
“It’s important because the hospital is always the default position. It falls down if there are people there who perhaps don’t need to be there.
“We need to encourage them to look at alternative routes, otherwise they may wait four hours and no one wants to do that.
“Walk-in centre waiting times are often 20 to 30 minutes.”
Colchester General Hospital has opened two contingency wards since it started missing a Government-set target of treating 95 per cent of A&E patients within four hours.
Dr Hasan Chowhan, a GP on the board, also encouraged residents to raise health concerns with their GP before they become more serious.
He said: “Your GP should be your first port of call.
“Ultimately, as a patient you would be better managed by them because they know you and your history.”
HERE are some tips for getting helpwith health problems over Christmas: ! For winter bugs, the message is stay at home and ride it out. A range of common illnesses and injuries can be treated with items from a wellstocked medicine cabinet combined with rest. Winter always brings more coughs, colds and sore throats.
! Talk to your pharmacist. You can visit your pharmacy when you are suffering from a common health problem which doesn’t require being seen by a nurse or a doctor. They can provide advice on common illnesses and the best medicines to treat them.
Pharmacies can advise on bugs and viruses, coughs and colds, aches, pains and tummy upsets. Although they can’t give out antibiotics for most conditions, they can prescribe antibiotics for eye infections.
! Protect yourself with the flu jab. Last year, the flu led to 107 deaths in the UK. Annual flu-related admissions into intensive care or high dependency units also increased last year. Ask your GP about the flu jab.
IF you are sick, the first thing you could do is call NHS 111 for help and advice if you are not sure how to deal with your injury or illness.
NHS 111 is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and is free to call.
For conditions like ear pain, vomiting, a sore tummy and back ache, or if you might need a prescription, then your GP is your first port of call for non-urgent illnesses that won’t go away.
If it’s not an emergency, but you need medical attention quickly and can’t get an appointment with your GP, then go to your nearest walk-in centre or minor injuries unit.
These are: ! North Colchester Healthcare Centre (incorporating the walk-in centre) at Colchester Primary Care Centre, Turner Road, Colchester. The telephone number is 01206 314015. This is a GP-led service providing treatment for minor injuries and illnesses. There are no X-ray facilities on site, so it cannot treat suspected fractures. It is open from 7am until 10pm every day.
! Clacton Minor Injury Unit at Clacton Hospital, Tower Road.
The telephone number is 01255 201594. This is a nurseled service offering treatment for minor injuries, such as cuts, sprains and fractures. It is open 9am until 9pm daily.
! Harwich Minor Injury Unit at Fryatt Hospital, 419 Main Road, Harwich. The telephone number is 01255 201226. This is also a nurse-led service providing treatment for minor injuries. It is open 9am until 5pm every day.
When it is an emergency, dial 999 or visit Colchester General Hospital for cases of choking, chest pain, blacking out, bleeding you can’t stop, loss of consciousness, struggling to breathe or stroke.
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