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Patients who need to access health services across Gloucestershire are being reminded today that they could be seen in a more appropriate and timely fashion if they choose the right service.

Emergency departments at Gloucestershire Royal and Cheltenham General Hospitals are experiencing high levels of demand as patients continue to seek NHS treatment.

The College of Emergency Medicine, which represents casualty department doctors, believes that between 15 and 30 per cent of patients attending emergency departments could be treated elsewhere.

Robust plans have been in place to help manage increased demand. Measures include increasing the number of staff at the emergency department, increasing the beds available across Gloucestershire and promoting community alternatives to hospital admission with health professionals.

Dr Tom Llewellyn, Clinical Director for Emergency Care at Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said:

“We are urging the public to think very carefully before attending our emergency departments. You may receive the care you need more appropriately and in a more timely fashion if you access other health services available.”

Susan Field, Director of Service Transformation at Gloucestershire Care Services NHS Trust, which runs the county's community hospitals and its community nursing service, said:

"We have minor injury units at all seven of our community hospital sites where we can treat a wide range of conditions including minor illnesses, sprains, simple fractures, minor burns, stitches and skin problems and would encourage people to use these where possible as an alternative to A&E. 

We will continue to respond to the increased demand that we are all experiencing and that this means continuously working with patients and their families to ensure they are discharged at the earliest possible opportunity to maximise the availability of services and beds.

Our community services and integrated community teams, including our Rapid Response service, will continue to work closely with GPs across the county to help ensure people are able to recover in their own homes instead of going to a hospital unnecessarily.”

Dr Helen Miller, Clinical Chair of NHS Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group said:

“It is really important to remember that hospital Emergency Departments are designed to treat serious injuries and emergencies.

The choice of healthcare options is often greater than people realise, particularly for the treatment of minor ailments.

The local pharmacy is a great first port of call for minor ailments. Pharmacists are qualified to give advice on a range of conditions, are experts on medicines and can advise people on whether they need to call or visit another NHS service. 

If people are unsure about what health services to access, they can also visit the Choose Well Gloucestershire website which provides details of all the services available or call NHS 111.”

Health service options for the public:

  • Community Hospital Minor Injury Units across Gloucestershire treat a variety of injuries and illnesses such as sprains, cuts and wounds, minor fractures and minor head injuries. Compare live waiting times at www.gloshospitals.nhs.uk
  • The local pharmacy is a great first port of call for minor ailments. Pharmacists are qualified to give advice on a range of conditions, are experts on medicines and can advise people on whether they need to call or visit another NHS service
  • The Health Access Centres in Eastgate Street, Gloucester and Cassin Way, Cheltenham can see patients with illnesses such as chronic pain, stomach upsets, everyday infections and blocked ears. The Centres have extended opening hours and offer a same-day service, however patients are encouraged to ring in advance (GHAC - 01452 336290) or (CHAC – 01242 548298/548299) to get an appointment time convenient to them.
  • If a patient has a ‘flare up’ of a long standing illness such as kidney or lung disease, bronchitis, asthma or diabetes that is not responding to self-care or advice from their pharmacist, a call to their GP surgery is the best course of action to take.
  • If people are unsure about what health services to access, they can also call NHS 111
  • You can find all the details for local services and get self-care advice at: www.choosewellglos.nhs.uk
  • Don’t access hospitals or health settings if you have Norovirus. Find out more about Norovirus: ‘Combat Norovirus’”