People across the Fylde Coast have been urged to think before heading to A&E as the campaign launched to ease the pressure on hospital services celebrates its first birthday.
It is a year since local health providers joined forces to launch the ‘Think! Why A&E?’ campaign in the area and residents have once again been reminded of the importance of knowing the alternatives as Blackpool Victoria Hospital continues to deal with high demand.
NHS Fylde and Wyre and NHS Blackpool Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) and Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust are using the one-year anniversary of the launch of the campaign to remind people about its vital message.
And to coincide with the anniversary, campaign organisers have launched pages on social networks Twitter and Facebook in a new bid to communicate more widely across the Fylde Coast.
The campaign uses six colourful characters to illustrate what people should do when feeling unwell or injured. The campaign video, which was seen by thousands of visitors to this year’s Blackpool Illuminations and scooped the honour for ‘Most Original Concept’ at the recent Haelo Film Festival Awards, has been seen by almost 8,000 people on YouTube.
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.”
Clinical chief officer for Fylde and Wyre CCG, Dr Tony Naughton, said: “Many people head to A&E when they are suffering from symptoms that would be best treated elsewhere, and all they do is increase the amount of time they have to wait for treatment and add to the financial and time pressures already being experienced at the hospital.
“This campaign has already had a great impact and our feedback so far has been very positive, with more than 95 per cent of people who have seen the campaign saying they would now consider their options.
“Now we need to make sure it is seen by as many people as possible across the Fylde Coast and ensure more and more people are indeed thinking ‘why A&E?’.”
Simon Tucker, emergency department consultant at Blackpool Victoria Hospital, said: “We do receive patients here at the emergency department who could have been helped by a visit to a pharmacy or treated in a primary care service such as a walk in centre or GP. These patients will usually be low priority and this means they could be waiting longer than most others in A&E.
“By choosing and using the right health services, patients can expect to be seen or treated more quickly, while keeping emergency services free for those patients with serious and life-threatening illnesses. We need to keep A&E departments for those people who are extremely unwell and need urgent medical attention.”
The ‘Think! Why A&E?’ campaign message is that people need to consider where to go or what to do when suffering from certain symptoms, rather than head straight to A&E unnecessarily. Symptoms include:
- Self-care: Hangover, grazed knee, cough, sore throat.
- Local pharmacy: Diarrhoea, runny nose, painful cough, headache.
- GP surgery: Back pain, stomach ache, ear pain, vomiting.
- Walk-in centre: Itches, strains, cuts sprains.
- NHS 111: Need help fast? Not well? Unsure? Call now!
- A&E or 999: Chest pain, choking, blood loss, blacking out.
You can follow ‘Think! Why A&E?’ online by visiting @ThinkWhyAandE on Twitter or www.facebook.co.uk/ThinkWhyAandE.