Pennine Acute Trust sees busiest daily A&E numbers ever – over 1,000 in one day
DOCTORS working at The Royal Oldham’s busy A&E department are encouraging local residents to stock up their medicine cabinet and think carefully before going to A&E during the Christmas period, so that the doctors and nurses can treat the seriously injured, critically ill and those in need of emergency care.
The plea comes as The Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs three A&E departments in Oldham, Bury and North Manchester, and the Urgent Care Centre at Rochdale Infirmary, recorded the most number of patient attendances in one day across its urgent care services last Monday – a total of 1,093.
Along with other hospitals across the country, The Royal Oldham Hospital is currently seeing extremely high numbers of patients presenting at its A&E department, many of whom are requiring hospital admission and need medical care and treatment. The Royal Oldham Hospital is receiving the most number of A&E patients out of the Trust’s four hospital sites. The Trust is on average seeing 80 more patients per day than the same time last year in the run up to Christmas.
Doctors, including the lead clinician for the Oldham Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), are asking people who are less seriously ill, particularly those suffering with winter colds and flu, to consider using the NHS resources and other healthcare provision and advice available in the local community such as local pharmacies and health visitors. By doing so, A&E doctors will then be free to treat the sickest of patients in the shortest possible time, and the emergency health services will be available for emergency cases and people with life-threatening conditions.
Over the counter medicines are readily available from local pharmacists who can also offer qualified advice, and these can be used to treat a large range of common illnesses and injuries. Those who are feeling unwell should also use the resources available online and over the phone to assist with a diagnosis. These include the Choose Well website, NHS Choices website at www.nhs.uk, and the NHS 111 telephone advice service, which is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Patients who require repeat prescriptions are also asked to think ahead and get hold of their required amount before local GPs close for Christmas. Traditionally the winter months see an increase in coughs, colds and flu symptoms. People are reminded to stock up their cupboards with medicines ready for the winter and holiday period.
Dr Nick Gili, A&E consultant and clinical director for unscheduled care at The Royal Oldham Hospital (pictured), said:
“All of our staff are working incredibly hard to ensure that patients are seen and treated appropriately and as quickly as possible in our emergency department. At this time of year the number of people attending A&E increases significantly which puts extra pressure on our services.
“A&E departments are there to treat critical or life-threatening situations and some people with minor complaints and injuries could be treated elsewhere. Many inappropriate calls are made to 999 and it is wrong to assume that by calling an ambulance you will get treated any quicker. Priority depends on the patient’s condition and those assessed as being a lower priority will have to wait longer. The high numbers of people who are currently attending A&E can cause us difficulty in ensuring patients are seen quickly. Ensuring that patients get the right treatment at the right time and in the right place is an absolute priority for us. With A&E departments becoming busier than normal, using this full range of services can save patients time in getting the treatment they need. We are keen for the public to help us to help them.”
Dr Ian Wilkinson, Chief Clinical Officer at NHS Oldham CCG, said:
“During the Christmas period there is a big rise in the number of patients coming into A&E departments and using the ambulance services, and in many cases this is not necessary. Many people could instead just have spoken with a pharmacist and purchased an over the counter remedy, particularly for minor conditions such as cold and flu symptoms, coughs and upset stomachs. By the public choosing well, this will help alleviate the large amount of pressure on A&E at what is a very busy time. It is important that the general public are aware of the alternatives out there and only come to A&E in a real emergency so that ambulance staff and A&Es are free to help those with serious and life-threatening conditions.
“The public are urged to consider the full range of NHS services available to them. Advice about self care and details of local health services are available via the NHS Choices website or by calling the NHS 111 service. By choosing and using the right services, patients can expect to be seen or treated more quickly, whilst keeping emergency services free for those patients who need them most.”