East Sussex health chiefs warn the public to keep A&E free for emergencies

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East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust is urging people to keep A&E free for genuine emergencies.

A spokesperson said it is vital that patients remember the Emergency Department is for serious or life-threatening situations, including:

• Severe chest pain

• Suspected heart attack or stroke

• Suspected meningitis

• Injuries such as fractures or major burns

• Breathing difficulties

• Unconsciousness

• Heavy or uncontrolled bleeding

• Suspected drug overdose

• Sudden and severe headaches

• Severe head injuries.

Patients who do not need to come into the Emergency Department with illnesses could be better treated at other health services, eg, GP, pharmacist, dentist or NHS 111.

It is estimated that around 2,100 patients a month come to the Emergency Department with illnesses that are best treated by another part of the health service.

The most common reasons for patients attending A&E who could be better treated elsewhere include non-traumatic limb pain and minor illness; other complaints include bites and stings, dental problems and back pain.

Although the Emergency Department is no busier over Christmas, staff can expect to see a higher number of incidents relating to the effects of alcohol and the cold/bad weather, for example, falls or someone falling asleep outside and suffering hypothermia.

On a normal weekend, a significant number of attendances in the Emergency Department overnight are alcohol-related; this is likely to be higher on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve.

Sarah Wilmer, head of nursing for urgent care, said, “It’s really important, especially at Christmas, that local people help us to keep the Emergency Department free for those people who really need it.

“Emergency Department doctors and nurses will continue to prioritise those patients who urgently need our help and work with those patients who come to the department with minor illnesses to help them find the most appropriate service.”

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