Think! Why A&E?Think! Why A&E?” That is the question millions of visitors to this year’s Blackpool Illuminations will be asked.

It comes as the local NHS battles to ease the pressure on its A&E department with an innovative public awareness campaign. Throughout the Illuminations, a unique animation will play on a giant screen to all visit the world famous lights. It features a remake of the classic YMCA song by the Village People and six highly identifiable characters suffering a range of ailments from the serious to the sublime.

Whilst quirky in nature, the animation message is a vitally important one. Devised by NHS Blackpool Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), NHS Fylde and Wyre CCG and Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust it is part of a wider initiative which encourages people to choose the right NHS service for them and their families according to their symptoms.

The ‘Think! Why A&E?’ campaign reinforces the crucial message that A&E is for emergencies and life-threatening illnesses only, such as:

  • Suspected heart attack
  • Chest pain
  • Unconsciousness
  • Heavy blood loss
  • Suspected broken bones
  • Deep wounds such as stab wounds
  • Severe breathing difficulties
  • Head injuries

If someone is seriously ill or injured, and their life is at risk then 999 should be called.

Many people attend emergency service departments with minor ailments which could be better treated elsewhere. This puts extra demands on already pressured emergency departments, particularly during the winter period.

Coughs colds, sore throats, vomiting and other minor ailments such as sprains, do not necessarily require a trip to see a health professional. There is a range of alternative and more appropriate treatment options for more common and less urgent complaints, these include:

  1. Self care – Minor illnesses, ailments and injuries can be treated at home. Coughs, colds, sore throats, upset stomachs and aches and pains can be treated with a well-stocked medicine cabinet and plenty of rest.
  2. Pharmacy – Pharmacists offer a range of health services. As well as dispensing prescriptions and other medicines, your pharmacy can provide free confidential expert advice and treatment for a variety of common illnesses and complaints, without having to book a GP appointment. You can find your nearest pharmacy by visiting the ‘services near you’ section of
  3. NHS 111 – This is a free telephone service, available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You should call 111 if you urgently need medical help or information, but your situation is not life-threatening. When you dial 111, you will be directed to the best local services to make sure you get fast and effective treatment.
  4. Walk-in or same day centres – These centres provide consultations, guidance and treatment for minor injuries and illnesses, as well as emergency contraception and sexual health advice. There are two centres on the Fylde coast, (locations can be found at both operating seven days a week from 8am onwards.
  5. GP surgery – If you have an illness or injury that won’t go away, make an appointment with your GP. They provide a range of services by appointment, and when absolutely essential, can make home visits. If you need to see a GP outside of the surgery’s normal opening hours, telephone the surgery and your call will be forwarded to the GP out-of-hours service.

Dr Amanda Doyle, a Blackpool GP and Chief Clinical Officer at NHS Blackpool CCG, said: “The message behind our campaign is clear: A&E is for emergencies and life threatening illnesses only. We aren’t asking people to avoid A&E when it is necessary, but to think carefully about when it is and isn’t appropriate. There are often more appropriate alternatives which can help people get the right treatment more easily and quicker.

“With support from the public we can make sure that those who do need emergency and urgent care get it.”

Dr Tony Naughton, Thornton GP and Clinical Chief Officer of NHS Fylde and Wyre CCG, said: “With people’s help we can reduce the pressure on busy emergency departments and ensure those who do need it are treated quickly.

“We want people to be better aware of the alternative services on offer to them and assess whether they actually need immediate urgent care before seeking it.”

Prof Mark O’Donnell, Medical Director at Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “For the past few years we have seen a year on year increase in the number of people using emergency NHS services. We are asking people for their support, to make sure that we can give urgent and emergency care to those people who need it.

Notes to editors:

For further information about this press release or the ‘Think! Why A&E?’ campaign please contact the communications team on 01253 956594 or email