HEALTH officials across Coventry are urging people to help Accident and Emergency departments cope with extra demands by not turning up unnecessarily this winter.
The A&E department at University Hospital in Walsgrave, Coventry, has seen several days over the last few weeks where more than 600 people have attended – more than 100 more than they would normally expect.
The unprecedented rise in demand has led to renewed calls for people to make sure they access the right health service – and if they are not sure then to call the freephone NHS 111 service for advice.
The winter months are traditionally the busiest time of year for all health services and hospitals in particular, although this year in Coventry and at St Cross in Rugby the pressure has remained constant all year round.
Certain long term conditions can be exacerbated by cold weather and flu circulating in the community with more time spent indoors in close proximity to others providing a breeding ground for viruses.
Dr Steve Allen, Chief Clinical Officer of the NHS Coventry and Rugby Clinical Commissioning Group, which buys and plans most NHS-funded care in the areas, urged people to think carefully before attending A&E.
He said: “There are a wide range of excellent health services out there and people choosing the right one helps the NHS save time and resources as well as helping themselves in terms of spending less time queuing and waiting.
“For example, people with a cold or flu or symptoms of diarrhoea and vomiting should visit their pharmacist, who will be able to advise and offer appropriate medication.
“The best advice if you are not sure is to call 111 anytime of the day or night and speak to a trained professional who will be able to give you advice on what health service you should go to.”
David Eltringham, Chief Operating Officer at University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust, added:
“Like other parts of the region, we are currently seeing extremely high levels of patients in our Emergency Department.
“While we’ll always be there to help people who need emergency care, we would encourage the public to think carefully about whether they need A&E, and to use other NHS services if they can.
“If you are unsure where to go but it’s not life threatening, then call 111 at any time.”
For more information about local health services and how to stay well this winter, visit: www.nhs.uk/staywell.