30,000 non-emergency 999 calls in North Wales lead to ‘Help Us, Help You’ plea from NHS

EMERGENCY departments will remain under huge pressure if people continue to turn up at hospital or call an ambulance for non-essential reasons including coughs and colds.

Jasleen Kaur, Head of Nursing for Emergency Care at Wrexham Maelor Hospital, says building external confidence in alternative NHS services is the long-term answer to the problem, ensuring the public ‘Help Us, Help You’ by accessing the right treatment at the right time.

Her words came as new figures revealed a staggering 30,000 of the 999 calls made in North Wales over the last year were for non-emergency reasons.

And it was the same for emergency departments (ED), with up to 30% of those attending at the region’s three main hospitals – Ysbyty Glan Clwyd in Bodelwyddan, Bangor’s Ysbyty Gwynedd and Wrexham Maelor – complaining of ailments that could have been treated by a GP, pharmacist or minor injuries unit.

As Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (BCUHB) and the Welsh Government reiterate the ‘Help Us, Help You’ message this winter, Jasleen hopes to see a reversal in the trends experienced annually for far too long.

“The public should consider carefully where to go to in the first instance to get fast, expert advice when they need it, and how to help themselves if they have a common illness or ailment,” she said.

“The Emergency Departments are for serious and life-threatening conditions such as heart-attacks, strokes, and serious accidents, not minor illnesses like the common cold.

“We must reassure the public and give them confidence there is support out there – that is definitely a priority right now.”

Jasleen added: “Self-care is the best way to treat everyday illnesses like upset stomachs and aches and pains, the majority of which can often be resolved with a well-stocked medicine cabinet and plenty of rest.

“There are alternatives and options, from the Out of Hours service and NHS, to GPs and pharmacists, who are the frontline for these issues and can provide local and targeted support which is far more effective when dealing with small and minor complaints.”

Making the right decision at the right time is also crucial and will alleviate a lot of the stress on Emergency Departments still coping with the strain of a region in the grip of the Coronavirus pandemic.

“The patient experience would be far better for them if they chose correctly the first time; there is no quick fix for these issues here at ED – and for many that leads to disappointment,” said Jasleen.

“Sitting around in ED takes vital resources away from someone else who really needs a doctor or nurse urgently.”

She added: “Our staff have been incredibly resilient and risen to the challenge, but we ask you, please support us this winter by accessing the correct service and not calling 999 or attending the Emergency Department when you would receive the right care in an alternative local setting – help us, help you.”

For more information on how best to access NHS services this winter, visit www.111.wales.nhs.uk.

If you have Covid-19 symptoms no matter how mild, self-isolate and book a test.

Visit www.bcuhb.nhs.wales for the latest news and information from Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board.

Please use the hashtags #HelpuNiHelpuChi and #HelpUsHelpYou to support the campaign.

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