A new West Norfolk campaign aims to help non-emergency cases to get the medical help they need from other NHS services, while taking the pressure off A&E and relieving queues.
The Choose Me Not A&E campaign follows figures that show around 250 patients are sent from the A&E department at Lynn’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital each month without requiring further treatment.
This means 3,000 patients a year could find better help from other NHS services, out of 53,646 who walk through the A&E doors – around six per cent of cases.
Due to be launched on Monday, the campaign follows reports a 22-year-old woman from Downham was taken to Addenbrooke’s Hospital with a broken back following a horse riding incident on Monday.
She was not taken to the QEH because it was believed to be too busy, but was left in an ambulance at the hospital in Cambridge for an hour before a bed became free.
A spokesman for Lynn’s hospital said: “QEHKL did not close to admissions at all on Monday and continued to care for patients despite being extremely busy.”
The campaign is being led by NHS West Norfolk Clinical Commissioning Group and Wisbech Local Commissioning Group with the QEH.
Dr Ian Mack, Chair of West Norfolk CCG, said: “This campaign has a powerful, local message: Help the QEH save lives this winter. We want people to understand that A&E is for serious, life-threatening emergencies only. Inappropriate use of A&E increases waiting times for those patients who are genuinely in need of urgent medical attention.
“Many people could easily be treated by a local pharmacist, GP, or even just by staying at home and looking after yourself. Our message is simple - if it’s not a serious medical emergency, A&E is not the right choice.
“If you are not sure which service to use log on to our new website www.ChooseMeNotAandE.co.uk to find out more, or pick up one of the campaign leaflets to see your options. You can also use the NHS 111 number which can put you in touch with the best service for you.”
Dorothy Hosein, CEO of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, said: “A&E departments are under extreme pressure nationwide and the Queen Elizabeth Hospital is not different in that respect. We have been working hard to improve our waiting times, bringing them within the national target, whilst maintaining safe and effective care for our patients.”