A&E Pushed to the Limit

Heart's found out almost 1 in three of you in part of the Thames Valley are leaving A&E without needing any further treatment.

Figures show Oxfordshire has the highest rate - with more than 30 percent of people not needing to be seen again.

It comes as NHS Oxfordshire is stepping up its Choose Well campaign to help people make the right choices about what healthcare they need.

The message is all about making the appropriate choice when you feel ill or injure yourself. By making the right choice you will often you get treated more quickly and help free up the emergency departments for people who need that level of care.

Sarah Bright, NHS Oxfordshire’s Head of Urgent Care and Community Services, said:

“Winter always means an increase in the number of people using healthcare services and this year we also have the possibility of an increase numbers because of suspected flu cases. We’re saying think about the sort of help you need and make the right choice. Your GP might be the right sort of help, your pharmacist can offer a lot of good advice and our Minor Injuries Units are well equipped and often you will be seen quickly.”

She added:

“Please think twice about whether you need to use an emergency department and ‘Choose Well.’ You should only dial 999 in an emergency and you should only attend emergency departments if you are very badly hurt or if you become very seriously ill with a life-threatening problem.”

People are also being urged to think again about attending A&E if they have flu symptoms – unless their symptoms are severe. The new Choose Well campaign is trying to get the message across to everyone in Oxfordshire, but in particular, it is trying to reach parents with young children and people who might have sporting injuries or fall and injure themselves in the wintery weather.

Alternatives to emergency departments include:

Minor injuries units (MIUs) - which can deal with fractures, minor head injuries, deep cuts and sprains. Also, you can often be seen more quickly at MIUs than in busy emergency departments and you don't need an appointment to attend.

MIUs are run by a team of highly qualified nurse practitioners with a lot of experience and expertise in the treatment of minor injuries. 

In Oxfordshire, there are MIUs at Townlands Hospital, Henley, Witney Community Hospital and Abingdon Community Hospital. All are open seven days a week.  For less serious injuries and illnesses please visit your pharmacy, contact your GP, or call NHS Direct on 0845 46 47

Advice if you think you have flu

If you are unlucky enough to get a cough, cold or flu, buying over the counter medicine, staying at home and keeping warm will make you feel much better. Of course, if your symptoms worsen, you should seek a routine doctor's appointment or contact NHS Direct on 0845 4647. The NHS says the best way to avoid flu is to protect yourself by practising good hand hygiene with the Catch It, Bin It, Kill It technique. This means carrying tissues, covering coughs and sneezes with a tissue, disposing of the tissue after one use, and cleaning hands as soon as possible with soap and water or an alcohol hand gel.