COMMENT: Consideration and common sense will help ease pressure on QA A&E
It's become a familiar message at this time of year. Winter is well and truly here and that means the accident and emergency department at Queen Alexandra Hospital in Cosham, like others around the country, is really feeling the pressure.
We reveal today how on December 7, the QA A & E's busiest day so far in 2019, an ambulance arrived once every eight minutes and a total of 182 patients needed to be seen by the medical team.
This figure is up from 144 on the same Saturday last year and even higher than the 126 in 2017.
The stark reality is that staff are somehow having to cope with increases in flu cases, respiratory illnesses and winter vomiting that have contributed to more patients who need urgent assessment or hospital treatment.
Norovirus in 13 patients saw the closure of 33 beds at F2 ward on December 6 before it was partially reopened on December 9 and then fully open a day later.
Last week 1,013 patients were taken to QA by ambulance and latest figures from South Central Ambulance Service show 320 patients were taken to the hospital between December 14-15 this year, 11.5 per cent up from 287 in 2018.
The situation is serious - and so we join hospital bosses in urging all those people with non-urgent medical issues to stay away from A&E and not call 999 so that stretched resources can be directed at those who really need urgent help.
Get advice from the NHS online, or on the 24/7 phone number 111. If you want to see someone in person and have a minor injury or illness, go to St Mary’s Treatment Centre at Milton or other walk-in centres at Gosport War Memorial Hospital and Petersfield Hospital.
Don't forget that you'll probably be seen faster than waiting at a crowded A & E or for an ambulance.
Plus, by showing common sense and consideration, you're helping to improve conditions both for hospital staff and other patients.