Stay away from A&E with minor ailments

An Accident and Emergency (A&E) reception.
An Accident and Emergency (A&E) reception.

HEALTH bosses are warning people with minor ailments to stay away from Doncaster’s casualty department.

The call comes as a survey showed the largest numbers of patients at Doncaster Royal Infirmary’s accident and emergency department are coming from the DN4 postcode area - one of the closest parts of town to the hospital.

It comes at a time when the trust which runs the hospital, Doncaster and Bassetlaw Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, is failing to meet national guidelines for waiting times in A&E.

During March, the trust’s performance fell slightly to 90.66 per cent against the national target of 95 per cent.

The position overall for the year also failed to meet its target, standing at 93.94 per cent.

A report which goes before health bosses next week says the issue is being looked at by the top level - and added the hospital and NHS Doncaster’s Clinical Commissioning Group governing body were in agreement about what needed to be done to improve the situation.

Strategies are primarily focussed on bed numbers, nursing and medical staffing.

Progress has already been made, according to the report, and weekly meetings are being held to resolve the problem.

An NHS report said the A&E department was still under pressure, and further research was being undertaken to identify any patterns, including where patients are coming from.

Patients from the postcode DN4 made up the largest number of attendances, showed the survey.

It revealed 16,727 people visited A&E from the DN4 area last year, a postcode which includes Warmsworth, Balby and Bessacarr. People from the area made up 17.5 per cent of all visits in 2012.

The second highest figure, of 10,716 people, came from DN5, which includes Bentley, and made up 11.5 per cent of all visits.

The rest of the top five include DN2, which includes Intake and Wheatley, with 9,329, or 10 per cent of cases; DN3, which includes Armthorpe, Barnby Dun, Branton, Edenthorpe, Kirk Sandall and makes up 9.8 per cent of visits; and DN6, including Askern and Carcroft, which was home to 8,353 visitors, or 8.8 per cent overall.

Aftab Junjua, consultant in accident and emergency medicine at the Doncaster and Bassetlaw Hospitals Trust, said: “Our emergency department provides emergency care for people who have serious illness or are badly injured.

“We ask people who are feeling unwell to choose wisely, and seek advice from GPs and pharmacies first, before coming to the emergency department.”

A spokesman for NHS Doncaster said the Trust was trying to find out the groups which were most likely to use the A&E department for minor issues, and to get a better understanding of why they used it.

They also plan to look at gender issues and the times when people visit.

He said there had been cases of people visiting A&E for sore throats, when they could get an over-the-counter treatment from a pharmacist.

A campaign is running to try to get people using out-of-hours GP services or minor injuries units instead.

NHS Doncaster says all A&E cases initially go through triage - an initial basic medical assessment.

The spokesman said: “People who use A&E inappropriately will contribute towards longer waiting times. They are triaged into minor injuries and major injuries, but minor injuries still need to be triaged. That takes up staff time.”