Last month a study of two A&E departments by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) found more than half of patients had tried another health service before resorting to A&E. In almost half such cases, patients had tried their GP first, the research on 422 patients found.
Stephanie Lawton, chief operating officer at Princess Alexandra Hospital NHS Trust, said: “We are currently experiencing extremely high demand for our emergency care services and have seen a significant increase in attendances in our emergency department.
“Our teams are working hard to assess and treat patients as quickly and effectively as possible to reduce delays, prioritising those in most clinical need.
“The public can help us to ease pressures by using the NHS 111 service for healthcare advice in non-urgent cases. As ever, please continue to call 999 or attend the emergency department for urgent and life-threatening emergencies.”
For two weeks ‘I just suffered’
Sharon Livett was taken to Princess Elizabeth Hospital in an ambulance last Friday to treat a urinary tract infection.
Ms Livett, 55, who has been paralysed for 23 years, sought a consultation with her GP, who she has never met, after a home-testing kit found the infection. She got a call from a paramedic who offered her a prescription that proved ineffective.
For two weeks “I just suffered”, she said. When she finally got a diagnosis from her diabetic team at the hospital, she phoned her GP clinic, who, after a 40-minute phone queue, offered her the same prescription as before.
Ms Livett said the A&E department was filled with cases like hers that could have been dealt with by a GP.
“It’s just stupid, people going to the hospital for silly little things that a GP can deal with. It’s because GPs are not seeing patients face-to-face, and if you ask for an appointment you get told there are no appointments,” she said.
“The ambulance crew said to me the other day that when they get to clients’ houses people say, ‘I didn’t want to go to hospital, can you just check me over’.”