HEALTH chiefs are urging sick people on Wearside to avoid Sunderland Royal Hospital’s emergency department unless it’s vital, as attendances increase by almost a quarter.
Staff are under increased pressure as 2,191 people attended the A&E department between December 22 and 28 for treatment.
This is a 24 per cent increase on last year’s 1,772 attendances and hospital bosses, are urging people to stay away unless it’s a real emergency as they’re likely to experience a long wait.
Carol Harries, director of corporate affairs and City Hospitals Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust secretary, said: “The A&E department is experiencing significant pressure with large volumes of attendances of quite-poorly patients, many of whom have respiratory/COPD problems.
“We would ask that patients only attend A&E if it is a real emergency and contact either their GP or local pharmacy in the first instance.
“People are also able to contact 111 for advice and if necessary, arrange an appointment at their local urgent care centre at Bunny Hill, Houghton and Washington.
“If patients do come to A&E it is likely that they will experience long waits, but they will be prioritised according to clinical need, so please do not attend unless it is an emergency.”
Ann Fox, NHS Sunderland Clinical Commissioning Group’s director of nursing, quality and safety, is also stressing the importance of people only attending A&E as a last resort.
She said: “By keeping calm and calling NHS 111 or calling in to one of our urgent care centres, Sunderland residents can ensure that our busy emergency department is able to focus their resources on those people who are most seriously ill.
“The urgent care centres, staffed by GPs and nurses, can see and treat patients of all ages from birth upwards who have a health issue which is not life-threatening, but needs to be seen that day.
The NHS’s “Keep Calm” and use the right health care service campaign is supported by Sunderland AFC, including players Jack Rodwell and Jordi Gomez and the club’s official charity, the Foundation of Light.
Urgent care centres are open every day of the year, from 10am to 10pm Monday to Friday, and 8am to 10pm Saturday, Sunday and Bank Holidays, they often offer quicker access to treatment for patients with non-life threatening urgent care needs.