Patients and the public are rallying round in support of Westerns Sussex Hospitals’ efforts to save A&E for saving lives this winter.
With the Accident and Emergency unit at Worthing Hospital under more pressure than ever this week, the trust has been reiterating the importance of people with non-urgent problems seeking help elsewhere rather than adding to the burden staff already face.
People who do not need immediate emergency attention face extremely long waits for treatment and could even be taking staff away from looking after patients with more serious or even life-threatening conditions.
The ‘save A&E for saving lives’ message has been picked up by concerned local people who are using social media to encourage others to think about more appropriate options when they need non-urgent medical care.
Within 24 hours of being posted on the Western Sussex Hospitals Facebook page, the trust’s message had reached almost 25,000 people, more than double the previous best.
Many of them added their own comments in support for staff. These included:
“There are a lot of people who use the ambulance service and A&E like a cab to their doctors without thinking of the consequences – please think before you call, is it a real emergency?”
“People also underestimate how helpful pharmacists are too! Our local surgery is even recommending going to them first, then seeing the GP if they think it’s necessary.”
“There are not many people who have to work under this amount of stress on a daily basis.”
“Staff are doing everything they can to help, they need your support please.”
Western Sussex Hospitals Medical Director Dr George Findlay said: “It’s great to see that people are taking the ‘save A&E for saving lives’ message on board – and even better that they are passing it on.
“If you come to A&E with something that could be dealt with elsewhere, the reality is that you will be diverting an emergency doctor or nurse from treating someone who really needs them. On another day, that could be you or someone you love.
“We know how much everyone appreciates the work of our A&E teams and wants to help them help those who are most in need. The best way you can do that is to make yourself aware of the other treatment options available in your area, think about which one is most appropriate for you and encourage everyone you know to do the same.”
GP surgeries, minor injuries units, walk-in centres and pharmacies are all good alternatives to A&E for people who do not need urgent medical attention.
Healthcare professionals at these facilities will almost always be able to offer the right advice and treatment, and you can usually be seen far more quickly than if you visit A&E as a non-emergency case.
You can dial 111 in the first instance for initial advice on the most appropriate place to go for attention.