GPs urging people to avoid A&E for non-emergencies (From East London and West Essex Guardian Series)
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GPs urging people to avoid A&E for non-emergencies
Local GPs are launching a new campaign to stop patients using A&E for non-emergencies.
The Redbridge Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has estimated that up to 40 per cent of patients visiting A&E services only receive advice and not treatment.
They believe that many people could be treated more easily by visiting a local pharmacist or going to their local GP.
However, the Guardian called seven local GP surgeries this week, only to find that five did not have any pre-bookable appointments available within the next two weeks.
One surgery had appointments available within a week and another had appointments available but required the patient to call up in the morning on the day they wish to go.
GPs and A&E staff maintain that alternative services will provide a faster form of treatment.
Concern was raised last month when figures were released detailing that only 82 per cent of people visiting A&E at King George Hospital in Ilford and Queen’s Hospital in Romford were seen and treated within four hours.
Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals Trust (BHRUT) published the figures and was the only London hospital trust to miss its government target for waiting times every month since November last year.
Mary Feeney-Chirgwin, A&E Matron at BHRUT, said: “We treat people strictly in order of their clinical need in A&E. So if it isn’t a serious medical emergency, you could get faster treatment without coming to the hospital.”
The campaign aims to provide more information about where to get the right care including GP surgeries, pharmacies, walk-in services and minor injury units.
Local GP and chairman of the Redbridge CCG, Dr Anil Mehta, said: “A&E shouldn’t automatically be the place to go for any problem – it’s for the most serious, life-threatening cases only.
“Inappropriate use of A&E increases waiting times for those patients who are genuinely in need of urgent medical attention.
“Many people could easily be treated by a local pharmacist, GP, at a minor injuries unit or walk-in service, or even just by staying at home and looking after yourself. Our message is simple - if it’s not a serious medical emergency, A&E is not the right choice.
“We recognise it can be tricky to find the right service so pick up one of the campaign leaflets or flyers to see your options. You can also use the NHS 111 number which can put you in touch with the best service for you.”
Local GPs are putting schemes in place to help such as community treatment teams to provide treatment to people in their homes and intensive rehabilitation teams to treat people after coming out of hospital.
They are also planning thousands of extra GP appointments across the borough.
Dr Mehta added: “As local GPs responsible for most local health services, we know we need to do our bit too. That is why we are making it easier for local people to see their GP.”
The Guardian is awaiting further comment from Redbridge CCG.
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