Over recent weeks emergency departments across the area have seen a very high demand in terms of people attending and seeking treatment for minor conditions; a significant proportion of which did not require emergency or life-saving treatment. This makes it challenging for staff to identify those most in need of urgent help.
Dr Richard Keeble, clinical director for emergency medicine at Airedale NHS Foundation Trust said: “I would urge everyone to think carefully before coming to A&E. Members of the public can help by making sure that if they do choose to come to A&E for treatment, that it is the best place for them to go to get the right care, as soon as possible. Our Emergency Department is for accidents and emergencies only, such as severe chest pain, difficulty breathing, significant head injuries and broken bones. The most urgent and life-threatening cases take priority, which means that people coming in with less urgent issues are likely to experience longer waiting times. Using an alternative to A&E when you aren’t seriously ill is likely to mean that you end up waiting less time and receive more suitable care.”
If people are unsure what help they need, the NHS is asking them to visit the NHS website www.nhs.uk as some conditions can be managed by seeking advice online. NHS 111 online (www. 111.nhs.uk) will direct them to the right service or advise on self-care for their needs. 111 can also be called from a phone for urgent advice, but not a health emergency. 111 is also the number to call for minor injuries – such as a cut, sprain or burn – where appointments may be made at an urgent treatment centre or minor injuries unit.
Throughout the pandemic and subsequent vaccination programme, GP practices have been working hard to ensure patients, particularly those who are vulnerable, get the care they need.
Dr Adam Sheppard, Chair of NHS Wakefield Clinical Commissioning Group and WY&H HCP Urgent and Emergency Care Programme Board, said “For all patients needing medical care, practices will continue to provide this in the most clinically appropriate way, through a combination of telephone, online and face to face appointments. By doing so, we can ensure even more patients get the care they need. Practices are currently busier than ever, and phone lines are exceptionally busy. We understand that this can be frustrating but please be patient. Our staff are working very hard to deal with everyone.”
General practice teams have continued to offer face-to-face appointments for patients throughout the pandemic. Nationally, patients have had access to their general practice throughout the pandemic with approximately 275 million in the last 12 months – over half of which were face-to-face and over half took place on the same or next day.
Across West Yorkshire in March 2021 there was an increase of 23% in appointments being made with GPs compared to February 2020.
There is also ongoing demand for remote consultations and the NHS will continue to regularly review the process for accessing appointments, so people get timely and appropriate care depending on need and preference.
People are advised not to delay seeking treatment should they have concerns regarding ongoing conditions or any possible cancer symptoms such as a lump in your breast, changes in bowel habits, blood in your pee or poo, unexplained weight loss, moles that appear to change or cough that they’ve had for three weeks or more, to get in touch with your GP practice as soon as possible.
People are also reminded to pick up their medicines ahead of the Bank Holiday weekend.
Looking after your mind is as important as looking after your body. It’s important people get support if they are feeling stressed, anxious, depressed, or lonely. Sometimes it could be a case of just reaching out to someone you know and having a chat. We know that this doesn’t always work for everyone, so if you do feel like you need help remember there is local support available.