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16 July 2010, 00:00
Heart's been told that hundreds more people have been turning up at the A&E department of one hospital in Kent suffering from breathing problems during the recent hot weather.
But staff at Medway Maritime in Gillingham say most of the patients could get treatment elsewhere, like their GP surgery, a drop in clinic or pharmacist.
Figures given to Heart show around 1175 people are week are turning up to A&E in Medway, that's 250 more than what they'd expect to see even at their busiest time of year.
Even though the weather hasn't been quite so hot recently, the problem hasn't got any better.
Rachel Perry, Service Manager in the emergency department at Medway Maritime Hospital says: “We’re seeing a lot of people experiencing breathing difficulties and chest pains as a result of the current continued hot spell of weather.
"In most cases, we would advise people, if they are already under the care of Medway Community Healthcare’s community respiratory team or have been in the past, to contact them first.
"If not, contact NHS Direct.
"If NHS Direct advises patients to see their GP but the surgery is unable to offer an appointment, patients should ask the surgery to contact MedOCC (Medway On Call Care) which offers urgent appointments during the day on request from GP practices.
"However, in severe cases, please come straight to the emergency department or contact the emergency services.
"To minimise the effect of pollen, avoid being outside in the early morning and evening when the pollen count is at its highest; keep windows closed late afternoon when the pollen count rises and drive with your car windows closed.”
NHS Direct: 0845 4647
MedOCC (provide out of hours care at night and weekends): 01634 891855
Medway NHS Healthcare Centre (where people can be seen by a GP or nurse, between 8am and 8pm, seven days a week): 01634 575232