Local health partners are encouraging people to use the most appropriate service after A&E departments in the area see a rise in people attending with minor illnesses such as colds, headaches and hayfever.
Dr Leilah Dare, Emergency Medicine Consultant at North Bristol Trust, said: “Local A&E departments have been extremely busy in recent weeks with record attendances. However, many of these attendances are people coming in with minor illnesses which don’t require emergency treatments or care from emergency specialists.
“We are open for everyone, but the vast majority of the time, people with minor illnesses will be able to be seen more quickly by using more local services such as a pharmacy or GP practice, and we may advise you to attend one of these services if we don’t feel you need to be seen in A&E.
“Each minor attendance that comes into our A&E departments puts more pressure on our emergency staff and can mean people with more serious conditions are waiting longer to be seen.”
Becky Thorpe, Emergency Medicine Consultant at University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trust, said: “A&E departments have been very busy recently and this has included a lot of attendances involving people with minor illnesses who don’t need emergency treatment.
“Please remember that A&Es are for serious and life threatening emergencies and if you attend an A&E with a minor illness you may be advised to attend another service.
“If you have a minor illness, please remember that GP surgeries are open and seeing people face-to-face. If you have a medical problem and aren’t sure what to do you can call 111 or visit 111.nhs.uk online. They will provide medical advice and direct you to the most appropriate service.”
Dr Lesley Ward, local GP and Clinical Lead for Unplanned Care at Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “We’re urging local people to help us help you by using our health services appropriately and only using A&E departments for life threatening emergencies such as severe bleeding, loss of consciousness or chest pains.
“If you do need urgent care, but you aren’t sure where to go, please contact NHS111 first, who will be able to provide immediate medical advice or direct you to the most appropriate service for your needs.
“There are a range of other healthcare services that we are encouraging people to use more regularly for minor illnesses – such as local pharmacies.
“You can also avoid needing to go to a health facility altogether by having a well-stocked medicine cabinet, which can help you manage the symptoms of minor illnesses and support you to get better.”