Patients told, don’t make a beeline to ED
MEMBERS of the public are being advised to reconsider where to go for medical help in a bid to ease winter pressures at the Great Western Hospital.
The GWH, which has been on ‘black alert’ a total of 21 times over the summer, meaning it was under extreme pressure, has now been downgraded to ‘red alert’ meaning it is under slightly less pressure.
But the chair of Wiltshire Healthwatch, Christine Graves, believes the situation could be improved further, if people were aware of alternative options.
Speaking to BBC Wiltshire yesterday, she said: “The public find it very confusing about where they should go for help and the natural thing is to dial 111 or 999 depending on the emergency.
“Really, the message is go to the person who can best advise you and support you with your health problem and that isn’t always the hospital.”
A spokesman for the GWH said more than 77,000 patients attended the GWH’s Emergency Department last year – more than 200 daily. And during the busy winter period, staff can treat up to 287 patients each day.
The spokesman added: “Before you head straight to the hospital’s Emergency Department this winter, think about whether you could receive the right treatment more quickly elsewhere.
“It is estimated that at least one in four people attending ED could be treated more quickly and effectively elsewhere.”
Dr Alf Troughton, medical director at the GWH, said: “Some people wrongly assume that if they turn up to ED they will be seen more quickly.
“However we treat patients in order of clinical need, therefore if your condition is not critical or life-threatening you will be redirected to a more suitable NHS service, where you are likely to be treated more quickly.
“In many cases people could receive the right treatment much more quickly from a local pharmacy, their GP or outside of normal GP surgery opening hours – the Swindon Walk-In Centre on Carfax Street or the Urgent GP/Nurse Centre on the Great Western Hospital site.
“By choosing well you help to reserve ED for people with the most critical and life-threatening emergencies.”
To look up local NHS services, visit www.nhs.uk.