Avoid visiting A&E unless absolutely necessary

14 November 2014

People across north east Essex are being asked not to go to the Accident and Emergency department at Colchester General Hospital unless they have a serious or life threatening condition.

The number of people who have visited A&E this week has risen, putting pressure on the hospital.

Several patients who visited the department have presented with minor injuries that could have been treated more appropriately and faster at an alternative NHS service.

The North East Essex Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is urging the public to choose their health services wisely and to think twice before they go there.

Dr Shane Gordon, chief clinical officer at the CCG, said: "A&E should only be used for critical or life-threatening situations requiring medical attention, such as loss of consciousness, heavy blood loss, suspected broken bones, persistent chest pain, difficulty breathing, overdoses, ingestion or poisoning.

"It is vital that emergency services are free to help people with the greatest need. Patients with minor injuries which do not require a visit to A&E (such as cuts, wounds, sprains, strains and minor burns) can also be treated at Walk in medical centres or minor injury units across north east Essex.

"This will significantly help to relieve pressure on the hospital's A&E teams and reduce waiting times for all patients."

Alternatives to A&E

Please consider these ways of getting treatment faster:

Treat yourself for simple illness and minor cuts, sprains and burns. Keep simple painkillers and cough remedies in a safe place at home and have a first aid kit handy.

Ask your local pharmacist for advice on minor illness. They can provide expert advice and simple treatments.

Call 111 24 hours a day. Their specialist nurses can provide clinical assessment and advice.

North Colchester Healthcare Centre (incorporating the walk-in centre), Colchester Primary Care Centre, Turner Road, Colchester, telephone 01206 314015: A GP-led service providing treatment for minor injuries and illnesses, no appointment necessary. Open from 7am until 10pm. The centre also accommodates an x-ray facility with instant results provided. If the x-ray is normal, clinicians at the centre can offer advice and strapping, if needed. If the x-ray shows a fracture, the person will then need to visit A&E for appropriate treatment. This x-ray facility is open seven days a week between 9am-4.30pm.

Clacton Minor Injury Unit, Clacton Hospital, Tower Road, telephone 01255 201594: Nurse-led service providing treatment for minor injuries, e.g. cuts, sprains and fractures. Open from 9am until 9pm.

Harwich Minor Injury Unit, Fryatt Hospital, Main Road, Dovercourt, telephone 01255 201226: Nurse-led service providing treatment for minor injuries, e.g. cuts, sprains and fractures. Open from 9am until 5pm.