Emergency figures rise

Staff at Northumbria Hospital.
Staff at Northumbria Hospital.
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People are being urged by health bosses to use NHS services appropriately as the number of people accessing urgent and emergency care services continue to rise.

Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust says the high number of inappropriate attendances, particularly at the new Northumbria Hospital, continues to put additional pressure on busy frontline teams.

On Monday, March 14, alone, the trust experienced 545 attendances at the Northumbria Hospital and across its urgent care centres in Wansbeck, North Tyneside and Hexham, yet only 125 people (23 per cent) needed emergency admission to hospital. There were 60 attendances from under 16s and only 19 required emergency admission.

The trust is calling on the public to act responsibly and to help keep the hospital free for those who are seriously ill or injured.

Dr Chris Biggin, clinical director of emergency care, said: “Our teams have been working tirelessly throughout the winter to cope with the exceptionally high demand for hospital services and although we’re now into March this high demand continues and is being felt right across the NHS.

“We’d urge the public to help us by using the right service for the severity of their symptoms and acting responsibility when using the NHS.

“Our message is quite simple – please do not attend The Northumbria hospital for any minor ailments which are not serious emergencies as our teams are very busy looking after very poorly people.

“Our urgent care centres are open 24/7 and are the place to go if you have any minor injuries or problems which you either cannot look after yourself by practising good self-care or which cannot wait for a GP appointment.”

While the trust’s urgent care centres have also been extremely busy, waiting times are considerably lower than that at The Northumbria as patients do not need to wait behind serious emergencies. During February, more than 6,000 used urgent care centres and the majority were seen, treated and left the department in less than one and a half hours.

Dr Biggin added: “It has been an exceptionally busy time for the whole of the NHS not only in the region but across the country and we would apologies sincerely to any patients who have experienced longer waits than usual over recent months. Our staff have been simply amazing in responding to the pressures and we continue to work with all of our partners to make sure patients get the highest quality of care.”