Today is a bank holiday for many people, a bonus to the weekend and chance for a well-earned rest.
But spare a thought for those who have to work today, including the many frontline NHS workers and other colleagues who will be caring for patients in hospitals and close to where you live.
You can help your NHS on days like this. Bank holidays put extra pressure on accident and emergency services in particular because many people who have a health concern go there straight away, irrespective of their need.
A&E is for serious and life-threatening conditions only. A&E staff are highly skilled at dealing with real emergencies and urgent complex medical problems. It’s not the place to go with a non-serious condition, such as needing your ears syringing. Yet, believe it or not, some people do, expecting to be treated as soon as possible by the same doctors and nurses who are saving lives.
Last week the A&E department at Doncaster Royal Infirmary was really under pressure.
Monday, May 19, was the busiest ever recorded in terms of patient numbers, with 350 people attending over the 24hr period.
The following days weren’t much easier as 315 people came through the doors on the Tuesday and 310 on the Wednesday. NHS England believe a quarter of all A&E attendances are inappropriate and the Royal College of Emergency Medicine thinks the figure is around 15 per cent. It’s important patients take personal responsibility and go to the right place at the right time.
In Doncaster we are constantly promoting the Choose Well campaign to signpost people to appropriate services:
n Self-care - keep a well-stocked medicine cabinet for grazed knees, sore throats, hangovers and coughs;
n NHS 111 – offers confidential health advice and information over the telephone
n Pharmacist – for over the counter medicines and advice on common illness;
n GP – there are always GPs on duty in Doncaster when your own surgery is closed. Just ring your surgery number to contact the out of hours service;
n 8am - 8pm Centre – open every day near Doncaster Railway Station. Call 01302 645544 to book an appointment;
n Minor Injuries Units – based at Montagu, New Selby Memorial and Goole and district hospitals for medical treatment that doesn’t need a visit to A&E;
n Emergency Department or 999 – don’t call an ambulance or go to A&E unless it’s a real emergency.
At Doncaster Clinical Commissioning Group we’re focusing on ways of providing better care out of hospital for frail and vulnerable people and children. And there will soon be a named GP for every person aged over 70 - I’ll be talking more about this. Search for Choose Well at www.doncasterccg.nhs.uk
* Nick Tupper, Doncaster Clinical Commissioning Group