Avoiding unnecessary trips to A&E

January 4, 2015 Written by Nadia Tavana

During winter, Bristol’s accident and emergency departments become very busy with more people than usual coming through the doors.

For those who are not suffering from life threatening injury or illness, there are many other options for medical support and advice.
Extra pressures on A&E are a common occurrence during winter. However, this year A&E’s have seen a large increase in patients walking through their doors. Some of these patients are not experiencing life threatening injury or illness and as a result could be seen quicker and more appropriately elsewhere.
For very minor illnesses or day-to-day management of long term conditions, your GP or pharmacist is the best resource for advice. To find your local pharmacist or GP, click here.

How our Urgent Care Centre could help you

If you have a minor injury or illness, minor injury units and urgent care centres can be an useful place to visit. Bristol Community Health runs an Urgent Care Centre in South Bristol which offers an 8am-8pm daily drop in service for those who have an injury, that is not life-threatening.

Our Urgent Care Centre can support you with:
• sprains and strains
• broken bones (over two years old)
• burns
• minor head injuries
• minor infections.

When asked about what to do this winter, Michelle, the Urgent Care Centre lead, is clear: “We always advise people to start by looking after themselves – stock up on cold and flu remedies, paracetamol and a well-stocked medicine cabinet.

“If you do feel you need to seek treatment, then make sure you know what options are available to you.”

“If you do feel you need to seek treatment, then make sure you know what options are available to you. As well as our Urgent Care Centre, there are Walk-in Centres, the 111 service, local pharmacists and GPs, all of whom may be able to treat you, and avoid a trip to A&E.”

How your A&E department can help you

Michelle is also keen to advise patients about the things the Urgent Care Centre can’t treat.

“We can’t manage things like chest pains or any heart related issues – for these we urge you to visit A&E or call 999.
“The Urgent Care Centre is also not equipped to treat children in with on-going chronic illnesses. In the past we have seen children with chronic or on-going issues which we are unable to treat, so we would advise the parents of these children to seek help at the children’s A&E at the BRI.”

If you are suffering from any of the following, you should visit A&E or call 999 straight away:

  • loss of consciousness
  • heavy blood loss that cannot be stopped
  • persistent, severe chest pain
  • head injuries
  • a suspected stroke or heart attack
  • severe breathing difficulties
  • a deep wound, such as a stab wound

For more information on what to do if you are feeling unwell, click here for local GP, pharmacists and walk-in centres.