‘Being drunk is not an emergency!’: People urged to think twice before going to A&E

The entrance to Stoke Mandeville Hospital
The entrance to Stoke Mandeville Hospital

Bucks health chiefs have urged people not to put others’ lives at risk by attending hospital when it is not neccessary.

The plea was made after figures showed that attendances to Stoke Mandeville Hospital’s accident and emergency department had increased during the first part of December compared to last year.

This year the department has seen 3,153 people come through its doors between December 1 and 14, compared to 3,017 in 2013 - an increase of almost ten people a day.

Dr Annet Gamell, chief clinical officer at the Chiltern Clinical Commissioning Group said: “This is a very busy period for the NHS.

“It is not just Stoke Mandeville that is affected, the picture is the same across the country.

“There are a number of reasons why I think we have seen these increases - one is that the population is getting older and more frail.

“Sometimes just a slight drop in temperature can be the tipping point for older people with minor illnesses.”

The ambulance service said they had seen a big increase in calls in the last few weeks and Andy Battye, area manager for Chiltern and East Berkshire for South Central Ambulance Service urged people to think before dialling 999.

He said: “We have seen an increase this year of almost 1,000 extra calls and we would urge people to think before they phone us.

“We will obviously deal with things like accidents and strokes as priority calls but people have to realise that more minor things may have to wait or we may urge you to consider alternative options.

“For example, getting drunk is not an emergency, it is something you have brought on yourself so please don’t call 999 because you could be putting other people’s lives at risk.”

Dr Tina Kenny, medical director of Bucks Healthcare NHS Trust said: “We can all do our bit to help by looking out for elderly relatives or neighbours.

“If you are able to help people with minor illnesses look after themselves it does help because GPs just don’t have the time to see everyone.

“My main message is for people to do their best to stay happy and healthy, help others and enjoy Christmas.”

It was also stressed that anyone with a minor injury can attend the minor injuries and illnesses unit at Wycombe Hospital which is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The NHS 111 number is available for when it is not a life threatening emergency and people are unsure of who to call.

It is can also be used when GP surgeries are closed or for information on available NHS services.