Plea for only urgent cases to attend A&E after Sunderland and South Tyneside units see rise in patients who don't need its care

Patients have been urged to think twice about needing the care of A&E after a rise in numbers attending units when they could have sought help elsewhere.

Wednesday, 19th May 2021, 6:40 pm

Frontline NHS teams in Sunderland and South Tyneside are asking people to use health services sensibly as restrictions ease and as another bank holiday approaches.

It comes after the NHS in the region experienced a rise in people attending emergency departments when many could have sought advice from a more appropriate service.

With A&E departments for the most serious and life threatening conditions, they ask everyone thinks about services such as pharmacy, GP and 111 online or telephone first, and not just to turn up to the units.

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Dr Shaz Wahid, Medical Director of South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust, has asked patients to consider the right place to see care after a rise in people attending A&E departments at its hospitals when they could have sought advice from their GP, 111 service or from a pharmacy.

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While the number of Covid-19 cases remains low, the NHS says hospitals and GP practices still face challenges, with reduced space and strict infection control measures.

Its advice also includes:

*Anyone with suspected Covid-19 should stay at home and get a test by calling 119 or visiting – tests are not available at A&E or GP surgeries.

*If visiting a healthcare setting, wear a face covering and use handwashing and alcohol gel facilities.

*Attend appointments on your own, where possible, to limit numbers and reduce infection risk.

*Keep appointments and say if a patient cannot so they can be offered to others.

Dr Shaz Wahid, Medical Director at the trust, said: “Those that do turn up to A&E will of course be assessed clinically by a member of our team but will be re-directed to a more appropriate service for their needs if they don’t need emergency care.

“By thinking of alternative services people will be doing their bit to keep A&E for those that really need it.”

He added NHS 111 online or telephone can make appointments at surgeries, pharmacies and urgent treatment centres and send ambulances for serious or life-threatening issues.

Dr Mike Bramble, interim clinical lead for the North East and North Cumbria Integrated Care System, said: “With lockdown measures easing even further this week we are all looking forward to enjoying time with friends and family.

"But we hope everyone will behave in a way that does not impact on their health, our emergency services and the wider NHS by continuing to follow the rules on social distancing and staying safe and using services sensibly.”

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