NHS releases 12 A&E visits of Christmas in bid to deter unnecessary visits

NHS organisations across the Midlands have released their 'Top 12 unnecessary A&E visits of Christmas', in a bid reduce the number of people who attend when they don't need to.

Gathered from hospitals across the West Midlands, including Staffordshire, they feature real-life stories of people who could have avoided turning up to A&E in 2014. And in the wake of the list, Cannock Chase Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is urging people only to go to A&E this winter if they or their loved one has the most serious, life-threatening illness or injury. Instead residents should use a pharmacy, GP, or walk-in centre instead, or call 111 for advice.

Part of the Choose Well Midlands winter campaign, the call comes from 15 clinical commissioning groups across the region, which commission many of the healthcare services residents access. It follows Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) figures from 2012/13, showing that around one in two people attended A&E when they may have been able to go elsewhere for treatment.

The list of 12 conditions people attended with, which should have been treated at home, by a GP, a pharmacist, or just by going somewhere completely different, are:

  • Torn fingernail
  • Sore throat the patient had woken up with
  • Diarrhoea and vomiting in an otherwise fit and healthy patient
  • Four-month verruca
  • False nails needed removing
  • Ear ache
  • Ran out of asthma inhaler and needed a replacement
  • Wart on a finger
  • Hangover after a night out
  • Cold and sneezing
  • Pain in the toe (left A&E 15 minutes later to visit on-site bakery)
  • Hair extensions needed removing (heard from a local GP – please advise if you have another)

CCG Chair Dr Johnny McMahon said: "During winter and especially Christmas and New Year, our hospitals are much busier than usual and our doctors, nurses and paramedics want to be able to look after those people who really need their care. The issues people from our list visited with simply don't belong in A&E and waste valuable time.

"The message to people is, don't go to A&E or call 999 unless you or your loved one has the most serious, life-threatening illness or injury. Consider using a pharmacy, GP or walk-in centre instead and if you're not sure what healthcare treatment you need, call 111 for advice."

As part of the Choose Well campaign, CCGs are encouraging people to use other treatment and services available. These include:

  • Self-care – treat minor illness and injury at home using stocked medicine cabinet.
  • Pharmacy – visit for expert advice and treatment for minor ailments.
  • NHS 111 – call for advice and signposting on what the best treatment is and where to go for it.
  • GP – call for advice and if symptoms persist for more than a few days, make an appointment.
  • Walk-in centre – open until late, treating trips, falls and minor injuries.

Dr McMahon added: "The truth is there are often other, more appropriate services people can use to help themselves or their loved ones to get better. Choose Well is about raising awareness of the range of services available, such as pharmacists, GPs, 111 and walk-in centres. And in many cases, the best cure for minor illnesses and injuries is staying at home, getting plenty of rest and fluids and taking over-the-counter fever and pain-reducing medication."

For more information and to find local GP and pharmacy services, visit www.choosewellmidlands.nhs.uk.