If you think a broken finger nail is reason enough to call an ambulance, it’s not Accident and Emergency you need but a psychiatrist!
And yet, as we reveal today, there’s no shortage of woefully trivial ailments being presented to our hard-pressed A&E staff.
As well as broken fingernails, there’s people pestering hospital emergency medics with bad backs, upset stomachs and even toothache.
While these may be at the extreme end of the trivial ailment scale, the ignorant abuse of A&E is not a minor issue. At Sunderland Royal Hospital, only one in three needed emergency treatment.
What can be done?
Slapping time-wasters with a serious fine is one solution many readers would like to see (some would simply settle for seeing the time-wasters slapped!)
Unfortunately, though it’s clear some deserve financial penalties, others do not. And the last thing we need is people with genuine health complaints reluctant to come forward for fear of being hit with a fine.
Naming and shaming time-wasters would be welcomed by some, but again to do so risks putting off genuine patients.
Again, it’s education that is required and a healthy dose of common sense.
We can only explain, with the patience usually reserved for NHS staff dealing with these time-wasters, that A&E is for serious conditions only.
The clue is in the title. Only go to A&E if you have a genuine emergency.
And by emergency, the NHS means a serious or life-threatening condition.
If your ailment is anything less, get yourself to your doctor, get to the chemist or simply get to bed.
And if it’s a broken finger nail ... get a life.