Residents urged to use A&E only in emergencies

Date: 05 Jan 2016

Category: Statements

Health leaders are urging people to use A&E only for genuine life-threatening emergencies, following a surge in numbers seeking emergency care across Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire.

The local health system has declared ‘black escalation’ status due to high levels of demand for all local health services including Southmead Hospital, Bristol Royal Infirmary (BRI), Bristol Royal Hospital for Children and Weston General Hospital.

Black escalation status means that there is severe pressure on services across the health and social care system requiring decisive action by all partners to maintain safe, clinical services.

Local health service partners have robust plans in place and are working closely together to manage demand and recover capacity, such as calling in additional staff and opening up extra beds wherever possible.

Local people are also being encouraged to do their bit by using the most appropriate services for their needs.

Bristol CCG Clinical Lead for Urgent and local GP Dr Peter Goyder said, “Over the previous two weeks, like many parts of the country, we have experienced a surge in  demand on the local emergency and urgent care system. Our system on the whole has coped with this increased demand, but it is still under considerable pressure and we expect this to continue throughout the coming week.

“However the evidence from hospital A&E Departments, including those at the BRI, Southmead Hospital and Weston General Hospital is that many people are still continuing to use A&E unnecessarily.

“We all want the best care for ourselves and our families but if you are feeling under the weather, attending A&E may not be the answer. I would urge people to seek out advice from their pharmacist first, contact their GP or ring 111.”

Alternatives to A&E

A wide range of local NHS services are available offering fast, local treatment and advice for minor injuries and illnesses. They include emergency pharmacies, out-of-hours GP services, minor injuries units and walk-in centres and the NHS 111 advice line.

Help and advice on choosing the right service is available from the NHS 111 service or local NHS Clinical Commissioning Group website

The websites include dedicated advice for parents, setting out their options for treatment if their child is poorly or injured.

Free NHS ‘service finder’ smartphone apps for Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire, offering on-the-go advice and guidance on finding a local NHS service, are also available to download from the Android and Apple app stores.

  • Minor injuries units are available in Bristol , Clevedon and Yate for fast, local treatment of minor injuries such as strains, sprains and broken bones, without needing a trip to A&E. They’re available seven days a week. Dial 111 for details.
  • Bristol also has a walk-in centre at 59 Broadmead and an urgent care centre at South Bristol Community Hospital, offering the same services as minor injuries units as well as help with minor illnesses and emergency contraception and advice.
  • The NHS 111 service is available for people who urgently need medical help or advice, but it’s not a life-threatening situation. It’s available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and is free to call from a mobile or landline.
  • A&E and 999 are for serious, life-threatening conditions such as loss of consciousness, heavy blood loss, severe chest pain, head injuries or a suspected stroke or heart attack. In these circumstances, don’t hesitate – call 999 for immediate assistance.
  • For advice on choosing or locating a service, call 111, free, at any time or visit your local NHS website at