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Appeal to public to keep A&E for emergencies only this bank holiday

Published: 25 August 2016

Health professionals in Torbay and South Devon are appealing to local people to help ease the pressure on emergency departments by avoiding using them unless in an emergency this bank holiday weekend.

Torbay Hospital’s Emergency Department (A&E) regularly sees a number of people attending with a range of minor complaints which could have been treated more appropriately and effectively elsewhere.

Liz Davenport, Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust’s Chief Operating Officer, 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. However, if it is an emergency you should not hesitate to call 999 immediately or go to your nearest hospital emergency department.”

There are a number of minor injury units (MIU) at community hospitals across Torbay and South Devon. The MIUs can deal with:

  • cuts, grazes or wounds
  • sprains, strains, muscle or joint injury
  • broken bones (fracture)
  • skin complaints – bites or stings (including human bites), minor burns, including severe sunburn and minor skin infection which needs treatment
  • emergency contraception
  • minor head injury
  • eye problems such as a minor eye infection, scratches or something that is stuck in your eye.

If you are uncertain or concerned about your illness, or you need to consult a doctor out-of-hours, you can call the confidential NHS 111 helpline, which is free from mobiles and landlines.

Dr Mike Haugh, the South Devon and Torbay CCG’s urgent care lead, said: “Choosing the most appropriate NHS service means you get more effective advice and treatment. We need to ensure that staff in A&E are available to deal with the patients who really need their urgent attention. So it’s important to remember that our local pharmacists are able to treat many of the common minor illnesses, such as impetigo, conjunctivitis, mild eczema, insect bites and coughs and colds.

“Pharmacies should also be your first port of call if you run out of medication unexpectedly or have problems with any medication, prescribed or not.”

The NHS Choices website (, includes lots of helpful information and advice on a wide range of health conditions.

For more information about the opening times and locations of MIUs in Torbay and South Devon, including live waiting times, visit our MIU pages.

Newton Abbot MIU has extended x-ray services this bank holiday weekend. Read the updated opening times.