Hospital doctors urge public to stay well and avoid A&E this winter

Dr Jimmy Stuart
Hospital doctors urge public to stay well and avoid A&E this winter
08 December 2015

DOCTORS working in the busy A&E departments at North Manchester General Hospital, The Royal Oldham Hospital, Fairfield General Hospital in Bury and the Urgent Care Centre at Rochdale Infirmary are encouraging people to stay away from A&E this winter unless it is an emergency.

They are urging the public to use NHS resources in the community such as a pharmacist, GP surgery or walk-in centre instead. Through the Trust’s three very busy A&E departments and Urgent Care Centre at Rochdale Infirmary it sees the most number of patients in the country, over a third of a million patients.

By staying well and choosing the right service, patients will get the best treatment in the shortest possible time, whilst keeping emergency health services available for emergencies and life-threatening conditions.

Traditionally the winter months see an increase in bugs and viruses, but cold weather doesn't have to go hand in hand with illness. Keeping warm, eating well and being prepared can help you to stay well this winter.

Self care is the best choice to treat minor illnesses such as coughs, colds, sore throats and upset stomachs. If treatment is needed for a minor ailment, over the counter remedies from a community pharmacy can usually help. 

Dr Jimmy Stuart, divisional medical director at The Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust, said: 

“Only those people who are extremely unwell and in need urgent medical attention should come to the A&E departments at North Manchester General Hospital, The Royal Oldham Hospital and Fairfield General Hospital in Bury, where we will provide the best possible care to patients in an emergency.

“A&E departments across the country are under an increasing amount of pressure in the winter months and ours are no different. If you have a cold or flu like symptoms please seek help from a pharmacist and get plenty of rest, drink plenty of fluids and take painkillers such as paracetamol or ibuprofen. As colds and flu are caused by viruses, antibiotics will not help get rid of them. These are fairly self-limiting illnesses and those affected may feel unwell for a few days.”

Choosing the right service to meet your needs this winter:

  • NHS Choices website (nhs.uk) offers up to date expert advice as well details of local services. 
  • NHS 111 is the non-emergency number open 24 hours a day. It’s fast, easy and free. Call 111 and you will be asked a series of questions to assess your symptoms and immediately direct you to the best medical care for you.
  • Local community pharmacies can help you with lots of everyday ailments.
  • Your own GP practice may offer urgent appointments
  • Walk-in services
  • Accident and Emergency (A&E) departments and the 999 ambulance service should only be used in a critical or life-threatening situation such as choking, chest pain, blackouts, serious blood loss, suspected stroke or meningitis.

Visit the NHS Choices Stay Well web page for advice about how to stay well this winter.

Pictured: Dr Jimmy Stuart, consultant in Emergency Medicine and divisional medical director at The Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust