Avoid A&E - Urgent Plea to Stay Away

16 December 2014, 17:31 | Updated: 16 December 2014, 17:36

The super high demand for A&E treatment seen earlier this week in Hertfordshire's spread to Northamptonshire.

Yesterday (Monday) the West Herts NHS went into the high warning Black category being "extremely busy" and urging people to avoid using Watford General Hospital's A&E - and instead - seek alternative places for treatment, like Urgent Care Centres or Minor Injury units.

Tonight (Tuesday 16th), the NHS in Northamptonshire say:

"The public are being urged not to attend local hospitals unless absolutely necessary and to use other NHS services appropriately following a surge in demand.  Attendances at both Kettering General Hospital and Northampton General Hospital have increased substantially in the last week by up to 20% in some areas which has caused significant pressures in both A&E departments.

As a result our local hospitals are coping with an unusually large number of patients who are acutely ill and need high priority hospital care. At the same time a large number of patients are continuing to attend at our A&E departments with minor injuries and illnesses for which they could be treated elsewhere.

Health organisations are urging local people to do their bit to ease pressures by:

  • Only attending hospital A&E departments if their condition cannot be seen by a GP or pharmacist and is clearly very serious
  • Not attending or visiting hospitals with stomach bugs or colds or flu symptoms - there is currently norovirus circulating in the local community which can spread quickly and impact on hospital capacity
  • When in doubt about whether you need NHS support start by using health advice services such as the helpline and website NHS 111
  • Treat common colds, flu and minor illnesses with advice and support from local pharmacists.

Dr Matthew Davies said:

"Over the last week Winter-related pressures on the local health service have been building. The most serious impact has been an increased need to admit people with significant medical problems to hospital for specialist care.

This has put pressure on hospital beds at a time when all NHS services are also very busy. The public play a very important role though in the appropriate use of NHS services. They can help us to ease pressure on hospitals by only using A&E when there is a real emergency.

For anything less they should be looking to get advice from their local GP, by using the Corby Urgent Care Centre, by using NHS 111 or by asking their local pharmacist for advice.

The next 48 hours are likely to be very busy at local hospitals and we would urge people not to use them unless this is absolutely necessary.

By acting appropriately people will help hospitals to concentrate their attention on the currently large numbers of people who need urgent hospital care."

At Kettering General Hospital some routine outpatient appointments and at both hospitals operations will be rescheduled over the next two days.

Affected patients will be contacted. Emergency operations and cancer appointments will not be affected.