Suffolk: Campaign To Keep A and E Numbers Down

23 April 2014, 06:00 | Updated: 23 April 2014, 07:56

A campaign is starting to try and stop so many people in Suffolk ending up in A and E when they could be better treated elsewhere.

Seven foot yellow figures will be bringing the message to Suffolk that A&E is for serious emergencies only.

The twelve yellow figures are part of NHS Ipswich and East Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group’s campaign to raise awareness of the range of local NHS services available to provide advice and support when it’s not an emergency.

The figures, depicting different types of common ailments including diarrhoea, vomiting and backache, will be at various locations in Ipswich, Felixstowe, Woodbridge and Stowmarket along with campaign staff on different days at the end of April and beginning of May.

Dr Mark Shenton, a GP in Stowmarket and chairman of the NHS Ipswich and East Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group said: “Recent figures have estimated that around 40% of people attending A&E didn’t need to be there and could have been better treated elsewhere. The yellow figures highlight the alternative ways that people can treat medical conditions by self-caring, asking advice from their pharmacist, making a GP appointment or by calling NHS 111.

“We want people to be aware that there are quicker alternatives to A&E treatment for non-emergency medical conditions. By choosing the right method of treatment this will also lessen the pressure on A&E staff who are busy saving people’s lives.

“The yellow figures are a great way to raise awareness of the health care options that are available and the friendly campaign staff are there to help you”.

Annie Topping, chief executive of Healthwatch Suffolk, said: "We know that approximately 18% of people admit to having knowingly used A&E for a non-emergency at some point in their lives. Healthwatch Suffolk therefore welcomes any initiative to signpost people to appropriate services. After all, better use of services means that people are receiving the right care in the right places. Our work with the clinical commissioning groups to review our local health and social care system means that we can help to deliver plans for future services that support people to be healthy in their own community and reduce reliance on existing services that are intended for other purposes."

Instead of going to A&E for non-emergency treatment the options are:

  • Self-care: a range of common illnesses and injuries can be treated at home with a well-stocked medicine cabinet
  • Local pharmacies offer advice and medicines for a range of conditions without the need for an appointment.  Many pharmacies are open long hours including evenings and weekends
  • NHS 111 free phone service available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.  It offers a one-stop number for patients with urgent, but not life-threatening symptoms who want a fast and easy way to get help when they need it. The service will put you in touch with the Suffolk out of hours GP service should you need it.
  • GP practices are generally open from 8am – 6.30pm and many surgeries offer evening and Saturday appointments for their patients.

The yellow figures will be located between 8.30am – 4.30pm (approx.) at:

Saturday 26 April -Giles Circus, Queen Street, Ipswich

Wednesday 30 April- The Triangle, Felixstowe

Thursday 1 May – Outside Costa Coffee, The Meadow Centre, Stowmarket

Fri 2nd May – Outside Town Hall, Market Hill, Woodbridge