Emergency staff urge patients to make the right choice


Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has today launched a campaign targeting those who use Emergency Departments (EDs) to treat minor ailments.

Inappropriate use of the EDs at Cheltenham General and Gloucestershire Royal Hospitals diverts medical teams from providing real emergency care to those who are seriously ill or injured.

New signs asking patients to ‘save emergency departments for real emergencies’, are being put up at both hospital sites. A new web page which displays live waiting times for the county’s EDs and Minor Injuries Units (MIUs) is also being launched today, helping patients ‘make the right choice’ about which service is appropriate for them and their condition.

Emergency Lead Consultant, Dr Victoria Henson, said: “For every individual who attends the ED with a minor injury or illness which could have been treated elsewhere, there are patients who need urgent medical attention which might be delayed.
“I would ask people to think very carefully whether their injury or illness is an emergency. There are alternatives to the ED which will provide the right treatment quickly and easily.”

Last year, around 115,000 patients came through the doors of both EDs. Of these, an estimated 51,000 were categorised as ‘non-urgent’ and many could have been treated either by one of the county’s Minor Injury Units (MIUs), GP surgeries, pharmacies or by self-care at home.

The new live ED and MIU waiting times web page gives people who think they may need urgent medical attention a chance to compare the live waiting times at ED with those in MIUs.

The page displays the current average waiting time for treatment, based on those who have received treatment in the last four hours, as well as the number of patients currently waiting at each ED and MIU. MIUs throughout the county are able to deal with many of the less serious wounds, sprains and cuts with which people often attend EDs.

Maggie Arnold, Emergency Care Programme Director, said: “We know that the majority of people do come to ED for the right reasons and for those experiencing a real emergency, choosing where you go for treatment is not an option.
“However there are other patients whose condition would not be considered to be an emergency, who may not be aware that they could be seen more quickly at their local MIU than in our busy EDs. Our live waiting times webpage will give people a real opportunity to evaluate their options and make a choice that is right for them.”

Local GP, Dr Caroline Bennett, said: “The choice of healthcare options available is often greater than people realise, particularly for the treatment of minor ailments, so we would urge people to act responsibly and only use the two main emergency departments and 999 calls when there is a life threatening or critical situation. "

Find out more about getting the right treatment on the Choose Well website 

More information about the MIUs and their locations can be found on the NHS Gloucestershire website.

For more information please contact Alison Warren, Communications Specialist, on 08454 223 120 or email alison.warren@glos.nhs.uk