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Many people attending the Emergency Department do not need to be there
07 August 2018

The Emergency Department at St. Mary’s Hospital is seeing more people than ever before at this time of the year with over 185 people attending the department on Monday, 6th August. The reason for people attending has varied from those requiring urgent emergency medical attention to a high number of people requiring advice and minor treatment which could be much better dealt with by a GP or local Pharmacy.

Nikki Turner, Director of Acute Services, said: “The sheer volume of people coming into the Emergency Department is over and above what we have experienced before at this time of the year. We are seeing some very poorly people that require hospital admission, a number with respiratory conditions, some heat related, but we are also seeing a very high number of people that could be treated by a GP or Pharmacist or seek advice by calling 111. This level of attendance is putting considerable pressure on the Emergency Department and this is having an impact across all frontline services. Our plea is for members of the public to consider whether they really need emergency care or can 111, a GP or local Pharmacy help them.”

Following an upsurge in visitors to the Island requiring healthcare the NHS on the Island has written to hotels, B&Bs, campsites and tourist destinations with posters for display setting out the advice and options for visitors to receive healthcare.

Emergency Department Consultant Dr Thomas Lawal-Rieley, said: “We’re seeing an increased level of walk-in attendance at the Emergency Department at St. Mary’s Hospital by visitors to the Island attending for conditions which can be treated by self care, a visit to the Pharmacist or an appointment with a Practice Nurse or GP at a local doctors surgery.

“It’s good for the Island that visitor numbers are up but we really don’t want visitors spending long periods in the Emergency Department waiting room for things which they could resolve elsewhere.  We want them to be enjoying their time on the Island.”

A letter was sent to the providers of accommodation and visitor attractions on 11th July to help them provide advice to visitors about what to do and where to go when they have an urgent healthcare need but it’s not an emergency.  The posters now being distributed across the Island will help to reinforce that advice.   The key messages in the letter were:

  • if visitors have a healthcare need then either calling the Island based 111 (Freephone 24/7) service for telephone advice or visiting one of the many pharmacies on the Island to speak to a highly qualified pharmacist will save the trouble of travelling into St. Mary’s Hospital and the possibility of a long wait;
  • the network of GP surgeries on the Island have arrangements in place to accept visitors as ‘temporary residents’ and deal with any health issues in the same way as they would a permanent resident.  Many GP practices now have longer opening hours including weekends; and
  • details of all services on the Island, including pharmacies and GP practices and helpful advice about healthcare can be found on the NHS Choices website at www.nhs.uk.  Visitors to the Island may also find the Isle Help ‘Isle Find It’ website at https://islefindit.org.uk/ useful for finding services.

The Trust has put in place enhanced arrangements for those attending the Emergency Department to help manage the demand on the service. In some cases individuals are being referred to their local GP surgery. 

Dr Lawal-Rieley continued: “We know how frustrating it can be to sit in a hot busy waiting room.   It’s frustrating for our staff to see that as well.   We have implemented rapid triage in the Emergency Department by a qualified community practitioner.  For some individuals we are recommending self care or a visit to their local pharmacy.  For others we can book an appointment for them with a Practice Nurse or GP at their local doctors’ surgery.

“Many people attending the Emergency Department each day do not need to because they can get the advice and treatment they need elsewhere.  Some things are common sense with advice readily available on the NHS Choices website (www.nhs.uk) and What0-18 website (www.what0-18.nhs.uk).  Local pharmacies are an excellent source of advice and treatment – Think Pharmacy First!  Many visitors do not realise that they can be seen by a local GP as a temporary resident.”

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