Campaign to reduce pressure on A&E departments

Dan GrimmerA major campaign to ensure people are not using health services incorrectly in the region has been launched this week in a bid to reduce the ever-increasing burden on Accident and Emergency Departments.Dan Grimmer

A major campaign to ensure people are not using health services incorrectly in the region has been launched this week in a bid to reduce the burden on accident and emergency departments.

The Choose Well campaign has been launched by NHS East of England, which is encouraging patients to visit more appropriate NHS services.

Every week, at least 30,000 people visit A&E in the east of England for a range of ailments or injuries. For some patients, they may not realise that their symptoms could be treated by other NHS services.

The variety of services available - including NHS Direct, pharmacies, GP services, walk-in centres, minor injuries units, urgent care centres and A&E - can sometimes be confusing.

By using a colour-coded thermometer logo, Choose Well helps people understand what is available and how choosing the right one means they get the best treatment.

The Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital has been encouraging patients not to attend A&E unless it is absolutely necessary after a surge in recent attendances. More than 6,200 people visited the department in October, up from just over 5,500 during the same period last year.

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Dr Paul Cosford, regional director of public health, said: "Giving people information about the range of NHS services and support available to them will help them make decisions about where to go, meaning they will get access to the right service so they get the best treatment for their health needs.

"It will also, we hope, see a difference in the way that services are used.

"Some services like GP and A&E services traditionally have to cope with an extra demand on their services over the winter months; this is likely to be even more the case this winter as illnesses like seasonal and swine flu circulate more widely among the community."

The Choose Well campaign has developed leaflets with information about what is available locally which will soon be available in GP surgeries, pharmacies and libraries across the region.

A spokesman from the N&N said: "It is very important that patients seek the right medical care and treatment.

"We are extremely busy over the winter period and encourage people to assess what help they can get before coming to A&E."

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