Appeal to public to keep A&E for emergencies only

Torbay Hospital Emergency Department

Published: 3 February 2015

Health professionals across South Devon and Torbay are appealing to local people to help ease the pressure on emergency departments by not using them unless in an emergency.

Like many hospitals across the country, Torbay Hospital is currently experiencing additional pressures on its services. This is not preventing the hospital from admitting new patients, but staff are having to take actions to ensure that those with the most need are cared for as a priority.

A very high number of people have been attending Torbay Hospital’s Emergency Department over the past few days, including some with a range of minor complaints which could have been treated more appropriately and effectively elsewhere. This includes aliments such as coughs and mild respiratory problems.

Torbay Hospital’s Chief Operating Officer, Liz Davenport, said: “Choosing the most appropriate NHS service means you get more effective advice and treatment. It can also help you avoid a wasted journey because if you have a non-emergency health complaint that could be better treated outside of hospital then you are most likely to be signposted back to your GP.

“Your cooperation will help us ensure that our highly skilled Emergency Department staff can concentrate their efforts on treating those with serious and life-threatening conditions or injuries.”

Liz added: “We are used to dealing with high demand and have robust plans and procedures in place to make sure that these additional pressures do not in any way compromise our high levels of patient care.

“This may include postponing a small number routine operations and outpatient appointments, and we appreciate the public’s understanding during this time. These steps are only taken when absolutely necessary and any patients likely to be affected would be contacted directly.”

The local health and care community is working in close partnership to enable patients to be discharged from hospital as soon as they are well enough to leave.

Mike Haugh, local GP and South Devon and Torbay Clinical Commissioning Group’s clinical lead for urgent care, said: “If you’re generally fit and healthy, you can usually manage the symptoms of a cold or flu yourself without seeing a doctor.

“Look after yourself by resting, drinking non-alcoholic fluids to avoid dehydration and avoiding strenuous activity. Painkillers such as ibuprofen or paracetamol can relieve aches and pains.

“You only really need to seek help if your symptoms persist for more than three weeks, or you have a high temperature of 39*C or above, or you cough up blood-stained phlegm.”

“Help should also be sought if you feel chest pain or have breathing difficulties.”

Useful tips:

  • Many minor ailments and conditions can be treated at home, with advice and remedies from a local pharmacist
  • However, if it is an emergency people should not hesitate to call 999 immediately or go to your nearest hospital emergency department
  • Anyone uncertain or concerned about their illness, or if they need to consult a doctor out of hours, should call the confidential NHS 111 helpline, which is free from mobiles and landlines
  • There are also minor injury units at community hospitals that will look after bumps, bruises, smaller cuts and sprains
  • For further health advice and information on cold and flu, check the NHS Choices website –