Shropshire residents are being urged to help look after the NHS this winter by thinking carefully about whether they really need to visit A&E with minor illnesses and injuries.
Shropshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is launching Choose Well 2014 this week asking people to think twice about where they go to get treatment, rather than heading straight to A&E. The best option may be to stay at home to recover, to visit a pharmacy for treatment, to book a GP appointment, or to call NHS 111 for advice and signposting to a healthcare service.
This comes after Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) statistics for 2012/13 revealed that almost one in two* people who visited accident and emergency with an illness or injury really didn’t need to be there.
Shropshire CCG vice chair Dr Bill Gowans said: “A&E is primarily for people with life-threatening injuries or illness. If you’re not sure where to go, call NHS 111 for advice on what healthcare service you need. You will often find that telephone advice is all you need to be reassured and know what to do.”
HSCIC figures show that of the total 18.3 million accident and emergency attendances across England in 2012/13, 6.3 million people – 34.4 per cent - only required guidance or advice, while 2.3 million – 12.8 per cent - needed neither advice nor treatment. The total cost of treating these 8.6 million was almost £1billion, based on the average A&E visit bill being £114**.
Dr Gowans added: “The truth is self-care – which means treating yourself – is often the only treatment you need for minor ailments, such as headaches, colds and flu, or minor injuries like muscle pulls and strains. Your local pharmacy is a great place to go for healthcare advice on many common conditions. And you should visit your GP if you’re still experiencing symptoms of illness after a few days.
“But remember, your doctor can’t treat viruses such as colds, flu or sickness bugs with antibiotics – the only cure for these is bed rest, getting as much fluid as you can and by using over-the-counter medication.”
* Statistics taken from Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) ‘Focus on Accident and Emergency - December 2013’.
** Department of Health 2012-2013 data.