'Some use A&E like it's a free pharmacy': Appeal as Hull Royal Infirmary gears up for busiest weeks
MILLIONS of pounds of NHS resources are being wasted because of unnecessary trips to A&E.
Patients are being urged to use health services wisely over the festive period and not see the city's accident and emergency (A&E) department at Hull Royal Infirmary as the easiest option.
Instead, people with minor illnesses or ailments should visit walk-in centres, pharmacists, GPs, or explore other options.
Phil Morley, chief executive at Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust, said: "For every patient who comes through A&E, it costs the health service £65.
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"If you come in for two paracetamol, or throat elixir, which cost pennies, it's such a waste of resources.
"It would help everybody if people use A&E in a sensible way. A&E should never be used for minor illness.
"Occasionally, people use A&E as if it is a free pharmacy. If drugs are available at a pharmacy, that's where you should go for them."
Mr Morley said the busiest time of the year in A&E are the first two weeks in January.
"Some people hang on to try to have a good family Christmas," he said.
"Some people overindulge and some people don't have carers over Christmas, so the dependency is back on health and social care.
"Between a quarter and a third of patients come in with a minor illness and they can always be treated at a walk-in centre or by a GP.
"There are other places to go."
Mr Morley also urged people who have diarrhoea and vomiting bug norovirus to use services wisely.
He said: "Norovirus has hit quite badly, with a 64 per cent increase across England – more than we expected at this time of year.
"For most people with norovirus, they should drink plenty and stay at home. It's quite rare you need to be hospitalised."
Doctors in Hull and the East Riding are also urging the public to be aware of the right place to go for treatment, ensuring urgent care services are kept free for genuine emergencies.
Dr Gina Palumbo, chairman of the East Riding Clinical Commissioning Group, said: "We can all play a part in making sure GP surgeries, as well as emergency services such as A&E and 999, are free so vulnerable people who need emergency treatment are seen and treated as quickly as possible.
"While the emergency department may seem an easy solution, you can be seen and treated much more quickly by choosing the right place for your particular case.
"This winter, we are backing the national NHS Choose Well campaign by asking people who are normally healthy to think twice before they contact their NHS services with common winter health complaints."
Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust, which has been forced to issue warning of a major incident this month when bad weather led to an unprecedented demand on its paramedics, is urging the public to only call 999 in the event of an emergency, such as a serious accident, severe loss of blood, heart attack, cardiac arrest, stroke or breathing difficulties.
Vince Larvin, the trust's locality director of operations for North and East Yorkshire, said: "We will always respond to medical emergencies where it is believed someone needs time-critical help.
"But our call-takers and crews are often faced with people who just require treatment or advice for a minor injury or illness.
"These calls take emergency staff away from those patients with potentially life-threatening conditions and can cause delays to them receiving vital treatment."