SENIOR HEALTH and Oldham Council leaders are appealing to patients to think twice about visiting A&E at the Royal Oldham Hospital after an unprecedented rise in admissions.
Hundreds of patients presented with minor ailments and injuries alongside a large number of genuine emergencies, creating long wait times and increasing pressures on the service.
Members of the Oldham Urgent Care Alliance have joined forces with key health leaders from Oldham Council to ask the public to think carefully about choosing the right kind of healthcare and avoid burdening services which could, ultimately, put lives at risk.
Dr Shelley Grumbridge, GP at Hopwood House and Clinical Director for Urgent Care at NHS Oldham Clinical Commissioning Group, explained: “The team dealt with 368 patients in 24 hours over the weekend.
“This really is unheard of, and presents us with no option other than to make a plea to patients to really think about how they choose to access care.
“We know urgent hospital services experience increased pressures during the winter months, and there are a number of complex factors which contribute to this trend.
“We want to help all our patients get the right treatment at the right place, but that doesn’t always have to be provided in a hospital building.”
Dr Jimmy Stuart, Divisional Medical Director for Medicine at The Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust, added: “Services across the NHS are under a huge amount of pressure.
“Our staff are working incredibly hard and, like most Acute Trusts nationally, are seeing extremely high numbers of patients at our three A&E departments and urgent care centre.
“Many of these patients require hospital admission and need medical care and treatment. This is compounded by inpatient bed pressures on our wards.
“We have also seen a large proportion of patients with less serious conditions. Many of these could be treated through local pharmacies, primary care and GP practices.
“Self-care is the best choice to treat minor illnesses such as coughs, colds, sore throats and upset stomachs. Over the counter remedies from a community pharmacy can usually help.
“Only people who are extremely unwell and in need urgent medical attention should come to A&E where we will provide the best possible care to patients in an emergency.
“We asking the public to think carefully if they can be seen somewhere else and please help keep our A&E departments free for those who are critically ill and need urgent care.”
The CCG, which commissions healthcare for 240,000 people in Oldham, has launched a campaign called ‘Think!’ to help patients navigate the services available rather than heading straight for the local A&E department.
The leaflets, posters and radio adverts contain pointers on using self care, local pharmacy services, GP surgery appointments, practice nurse services, the walk in service and 111, as well as general advice helplines to other health and social care advice.
The Walk In Service is located at: Ground Floor, Integrated Care Centre (ICC), New Radcliffe Street, Oldham, OL1 1NL. Tel: 0161 785 7520
Useful telephone numbers:
- Low income scheme helpline – 0300 330 1343
- Queries about medical exemption certificates – 0300 330 1341
- Queries about prescription prepayment certificates – 0300 330 1341
- Queries about tax credit certificates – 0300 330 1347
- Prescription services helpline – 0300 330 1349
- Dental services helpline – 0300 330 1348
- All other enquiries – 0300 330 1343