Self-care, choose well and think first before coming to A&E this Easter

Dr Jimmy Stuart
Self-care, choose well and think first before coming to A&E this Easter
18 March 2016

PENNINE Acute doctors are urging people to stock up on their medicines and prescriptions before the Easter break and to help keep its busy hospital A&E departments free for those who really need urgent and emergency care.

This Easter holiday, the public are being asked to take extra care, to take responsibility for their own care, and self-care if they have a minor ailment and/or seek advice from a pharmacist. Alternatively, they could go to see their GP (out-of-hours primary care) or attend a walk in centre, leaving emergency A&E doctors to focus their attention on seriously ill emergency patients.

Attendances and demand at all three A&E departments run by The Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust remain particularly high. Amongst those attendances, A&E emergency doctors are seeing cases which could be treated elsewhere in the community such as by a pharmacist or in primary care. This could delay people with genuine emergencies from being seen in the quickest possible time and increased waiting times for others.

Last week (week ending 13/03/16) 6,311 people in total attended one of the Trust’s three A&E departments at Oldham, Bury and North Manchester, and also at the Trust’s Urgent Care Centre (UCC) at Rochdale Infirmary. In just one week there were 2,041 A&E attendances at The Royal Oldham Hospital, 1,938 at North Manchester General Hospital, 1,285 at Fairfield General Hospital in Bury, and 1,047 attendances at the UCC at Rochdale Infirmary.

By avoiding A&E and choosing the right service this Easter, patients will get the best treatment in the shortest time, whilst keeping emergency health services available for emergencies and life-threatening conditions.

People with minor illnesses such as coughs, colds, sore throats and upset stomachs should try to care for themselves in the first instance and then failing that seek advice from a local pharmacist. Most of the time a pharmacist will be able offer people an over the counter remedy to their ailment. 

Keeping warm, eating well and being prepared by stocking up your medicine cabinet and making sure you have enough stock of medicines to last through the holiday period can also help people to stay well.

Dr Jimmy Stuart, Divisional Medical Director for Medicine at The Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust, said:

"After a tough and particularly busy winter period NHS frontline services are still under huge pressure. Our A&E and urgent care doctors, nurses and staff are working incredibly hard and still seeing great numbers of patients day in day out. Despite being out of winter and into spring there is no sign of a lull in the run up to Easter and we still have lots of patients in beds either requiring treatment or waiting to be discharged from hospital, which adds to the pressure.

"A&E is still the place to come if you need urgent treatment such as for a serious head injury, if have fallen badly or if you are having breathing difficulties. However, we are still seeing lots of people with less serious conditions and minor complaints such as alcohol intoxication, back pain, migraines and headaches, ear problems, and sore throats. Many of these people could be treated just has effectively and usually quicker at local pharmacies, primary care and GP practices.  

“Only those people who are extremely unwell and in need urgent care and emergency medical attention should come to A&E where we will provide the best possible care. We are asking the public to think carefully before coming to A&E if they can be seen somewhere else and please help keep our A&E departments free for those who are critically ill and who really need urgent care.

“Ordering and taking care of any repeat prescriptions, having a well-stocked medicine cabinet and being aware of opening times and contact details for local pharmacies and primary care services, and using NHS 111 and NHS Choices online will help over the Easter holiday period.”

Choosing the right service to meet your needs this Easter:

  • NHS Choices website ( 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 you 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 Easter.

Pictured: Dr Jimmy Stuart, Divisional Medical Director for Medicine at The Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust