Time for us all to ensure A&E is used properly

Steve's baby daughter made amazing progress this week, or so his wife thought

STEVE CANAVAN: It was a lot of rattle over just a little roll

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It’s a well-versed tale.

Today, health officials renew their plea to the public to think carefully before attending A&E.

The call comes after figures revealed more than 800 people misused the overstretched department at Cosham’s Queen Alexandra Hospital in just a week.

Yes, we pay our taxes, and there is no question that when the National Health Service was created in 1948, it was designed to be free at the point of delivery.

Sixty-six years later this remains the case.

But our emergency department and its overstretched staff are facing ever-increasing demands.

And despite thousands being spent by health officials on awareness campaigns, advertising on buses and other steps to signpost people to the most appropriate NHS care in our area, some patients are still misusing services.

Now a group of local MPs have formed a group to question why people are turning up at A&E when they could be using other available resources that are more appropriate for their needs.

But surely now it is time we called for patients to exercise a good dose of common sense?

Yes, A&E might seem like the easy, cover all bases option for any medical condition.

It is open round-the-clock, staffed by experts and who would want to attend their doctor or minor injuries unit, if they may only then be sent to hospital anyway?

No-one is asking patients not to attend A&E in an emergency – far from it.

What the public are being asked to do it consider carefully whether their condition could be adequately treated elsewhere, such as at a GP surgery, by calling NHS Direct or visiting a pharmacy.

It’s all very well clogging up A&E with people who have cuts and bruises, bites and stomach aches. But while they are being assessed, what about the people who really do need emergency care?

It’s high time we all used our health services more appropriately. The right care is available in the right location for all of us. It’s just a case of choosing well.

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