Dorset Hospitals Facing 'Unnecessary' A&E Pressure

As we head into winter, the Royal Bournemouth and Poole hospitals are appealing for people not to put unneeded extra pressure on A&E staff.

The demand on the emergency departments has increased by thousands in the past year. On average, approximately 200 patients a day are seen at each of the Royal Bournemouth and Poole hospitals - many of who could be seen in a more appropriate setting for their needs, enabling those with life-threatening illnesses to be seen swiftly.

Dr David Martin, consultant in emergency medicine at the Royal Bournemouth Hospital, said:

"The pressure on our services will only become greater as we support those with health issues that worsen during colder months. Our staff are absolutely committed to providing the highest quality of care but we need your help so we can concentrate on those who really need emergency treatment.

"When patients come to ED, they need a bed or a trolley space until they are discharged from hospital. We can only manage the demand for these beds with your help. If you're feeling unwell, please seek advice early over the winter, rather than storing up problems and letting them get serious, which may result in being admitted to hospital."

Dr Gary Cumberbatch, consultant in emergency medicine at Poole Hospital, said:

"We continue to see high numbers of patients attending our emergency department - we currently see an average of 190 people a day, which is 8% higher than for the same period last year, with surges in activity that have seen us treat as many as 244 patients in one day.

"Our hard-working staff are committed to ensuring that everyone who comes to us receives the best possible care, but there are many alternatives to A&E where peoples' health needs may be met more appropriately, and which could offer faster access to care."
Services available locally include:

- Seeing your GP: For medical advice, prescriptions and examinations and for persistent illness. You should be able to get an emergency appointment with your surgery as soon as possible, Monday to Friday.
- GP out of hours service: If your local practice is closed, listen to the answerphone message which should advise you how to contact out of hours services. Advice can also be sought by calling 111 (see below).
- Walk-in centre/minor injuries unit (MIU): If you have a minor illness and/or injury such as a scald or sprain that does not require an A&E visit but you can't wait for a GP appointment, visit your nearest walk-in centre. There are centres locally in Boscombe, Blandford, Bridport, Westminster, Wimborne, Weymouth, Sherborne, Portland and Swanage. Visit www.dorsethealthcare.nhs.uk/services/miu  for details of your local centre and opening times. Details about the Boscombe and Springbourne Walk-in Centre can be found on http://www.nwic.org.uk/or by calling 01202 720174.
- NHS 111:  If you are unsure of your symptoms and want expert advice, dial 111. The service is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week and the call is free. You will be assessed and advised on the best course of action to take and whether or not you need to seek professional help.
- Pharmacy: Pharmacies offer more than prescriptions. They can advise on bugs and viruses, coughs and colds, aches and pains, tummy upsets and allergies. People often don't seek advice for their wheezes, coughs and sneezes because they don't think it's serious enough, or they don't want to waste their pharmacist's time.  But no problem is too small for your local pharmacist, who is a highly trained and trusted source of health advice.
- A&E/ED or 999: For anything that is classed as an emergency including choking, chest pain, loss of consciousness, severe blood loss, broken bones, difficulty breathing, deep wounds, or a suspected stroke.

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