Health chiefs in Bedfordshire have launched a new campaign urging people to consider if they really need to visit Accident & Emergency at hospital.
The initiative comes amid countrywide concern at the pressure on resources at casualty departments.
The campaign, run by Bedfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), featuring a nurse, pharmacist and GPs, challenges people to ask themselves, ‘Is A&E for me?’, before going there for treatment.
Bedford Hospital is under severe pressure due to the number of patients who arrive - many who may be more appropriately treated elsewhere.
The Is A& E for me? campaign features GPs Dr Jason Reddy and Dr Fran Ross, Complex Care Team Senior Nurse Mandy Bull and Pharmacist Arif Esmail.
Dr Fran Ross, Bedfordshire CCG Urgent Care Lead, said: “A&E and 999 really should be just for emergencies.
“There are other services that may be more appropriate and convenient for treatment. In Bedfordshire, a GP is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. When the GP is closed, ring the surgery out of hours phone number or check their website to find out where to go or what to do.
“The message we want to get across to area residents, particularly those patients who use Bedford Hospital, is that A&E is for life-threatening accidents and emergencies only. We want them to ask themselves before they go there or call 999 to ask themselves: “Is it a real emergency?”
“It’s a good idea for people to make sure their GP surgery number is saved into their mobile phones so they can quickly and easily call for advice if they have an illness or injury that is not an emergency or life-threatening.”
Convenient health services include pharmacies which can provide quick, professional advice on the right treatment for minor illnesses and injuries. They can also provide you with prescription medication and talk you through how to use it safely.
Pharmacist Arif Esmail from Wootton Pharmacy, said: “Pharmacists can help with a range of common conditions and minor injuries, such as headaches and back pains, coughs and colds, sore throat, upset stomach and skin rashes. We can help choose the best medicines such as pain killers and anti-histamines and help people stock their medicine cabinet at home to treat minor illnesses and ailments.”
The campaign will run for three months offering information on GP out of hours services, pharmacies, nurses and self care through the new section of the Bedfordshire CCG website, Twitter, Facebook, posters, leaflets and a roadshow visiting shopping centres and other busy places around the Bedford area.
The website also features a short film which shows people why it is so important that A&E is only used by those who really need it.