It’s a well-versed message which health officials work tirelessly to ensure is delivered to the public in a bid to ease pressure on our overstretched A&E departments.
Thousands is spent on urging patients to ‘choose well’ and ensure they are using the correct service for their condition – be it a minor injuries unit, GP, hospital, or other NHS facility.
But still the message is not getting through.
As our front page today reveals, ambulances have spent a staggering 1,525 hours – equivalent to nine weeks – queuing outside Queen Alexandra Hospital in Cosham in the past six months.
The knock-on effect is that some ambulances in our area are failing to meet their government-set 999 call response target of reaching 75 per cent of patients whose conditions is classes as ‘life-threatening’ within eight minutes.
This is shocking, but it is something which could change if we took responsibility as individuals for thinking twice and ensuring we choose the most appropriate care.
Yes, it might seem like the easy option to just pop to A&E with an ailment, or minor health condition.
But A&E is there to do what it says on the tin.
Is that twisted ankle or virus really an emergency?
The chances are that those turning up at QA with either of those conditions, for example, would face a lengthy wait to be seen in any event if the department was busy, as cases are assessed on arrival and categories according to their urgency.
Not only that but such patients could technically be asked to seek an alternative service for help.
And all the time clinicians are having to spend on dealing with minor cases which could be dealt with in the community, is valuable time that could be spent helping to save lives and treat people who are most in need of their expertise.
So today we call on our readers to do their bit and think twice before clogging up A&E unless it is absolutely necessary. Of course, if it is an emergency, do not hesitate to dial 999.
But surely it is a matter of common sense.