One in three people are still using the Countess of Chester Hospital’s A and E department inappropriately including a woman calling in to request her contraceptive implant be removed.
Staff are already ‘extremely busy’ dealing with urgent and emergency cases, especially during the winter months, without having to deal with minor illnesses and complaints.
So the hospital reviewed cases between January and October 2016 to understand what can be done to ease pressures at the front door.
The conclusion was that those with minor conditions need to make the right choice – by visiting a pharmacist, making an appointment with their GP or dialling 111 for out-of-hours advice.
Examples of inappropriate cases the emergency team have dealt with include:
■ Elderly parent brought in for a check-up ahead of a family holiday
■ Person with worsening knee pain calling in to ask for crutches
■ Young patient with tummy pain seen by a surgeon in the morning, re-attending in the evening to ask for official reassurance it was not a cancer
■ Requests to deal with infected toe and thumb nails
■ Individual needing stitches removed
■ Request to check an ear, in case a cotton bud was left in it earlier in the week
■ Older people brought in by concerned friend or relative worried about leaving them alone at home
Medical director Ian Harvey said: “We believe up to 38% of Countess emergency department attendances could have been avoided or seen in an alternative healthcare setting. The national average is about 25%. This means 1 in 3 patients could have been dealt with differently – either by calling NHS 111, GP out of hours or arranging a daytime GP appointment.”
He added: “We would be happy to see these patients in the NHS but not in the accident and emergency department. This unnecessary overcrowding is delaying the treatment of genuine emergencies. If your nearest and dearest is ill, you don’t want their life-saving treatment to be delayed. So please use the A & E services wisely.
“The run up to Christmas and the first few weeks of January always sees local NHS services under pressure. Our patients also keep us going at times like this and we ask that those coming to the hospital bear with us while we are busy. Those with the most serious clinical needs will be prioritised and treated first. Other less urgent cases may face longer waits."