By Ian Dipple Monday 21 October 2013 Updated: 24/10 00:33
MORE than 27,000 people who attended A&E in Worcestershire last year could have been treated elsewhere.
An advertising campaign has now been launched to encourage people not to attend the county’s emergency departments unless in a genuine emergency as part of efforts to take the pressure off hospitals over the winter.
Demand for urgent and emergency care soars during cold weather as it triggers heart, chest and other conditions.
But on top of that research shows a large number of people are turning up at A&E with pains in their knee, sore throats and other ailments which could be more suitably treated at the minor injuries unit at the Princess of Wales Hospital in Bromsgrove, a GP, pharmacist or other such services.
According to Department of Health figures attendances at A&E departments in Worcestershire fell slightly between 2011/12 and 2012/13 from 141,716 to 137,018 although it is estimated about 20 per cent of those patients could have been treated elsewhere.
But there is a lack of public awareness about which services they should be using which means many turn up at A&E by default.
The ‘Is A&E for Me?’ campaign will feature health staff in posters, leaflets, bus and newspaper advertisement across the county promoting the importance of keeping A&E free for those who need emergency care and the alternatives available.
Information events will also be held in supermarkets and shopping centres.
The campaign is being led by the county’s three clinical commissioning groups - responsible for buying in healthcare services - Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust, Worcestershire Health and Care Trust and West Midlands Ambulance service.
Dr Jonathan Wells, chair of Redditch and Bromsgrove CCG, said: “In Worcestershire A&E departments are performing well, with A&E attendances currently down in comparison to this time last year - however, we are predicting a significant increase in attendances and admissions over the winter.
“We hope this campaign will help people know their options when it comes to local health services, which will not only benefit patients and prevent people from waiting for hours in A&E departments, it will also allow A&E staff to treat patients who need emergency care.”
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