Save A&E for emergencies this festive season

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NHS Tayside is asking people to save Accident and Emergency departments for real emergencies only and make sure they know where to get the right treatment, at the right place, at the right time, during the festive period.

Over holiday periods, when GP surgeries are closed, A&E departments see a significant increase in attendances, some of which could be dealt with elsewhere. Around one in three people who visit A&E could receive treatment more appropriately by accessing a different service. This can put extra pressure on staff when they may be needed for a real emergency.

Over the Christmas and New Year period, GP surgeries will be closed on December 24, 25, 26, 27 and 31, 2016 and January 1, 2 and 3, 2017. During this time, there are alternative places to get help, should you need it. When your GP surgery is closed, or you need advice on self care, please call NHS 24 on 111. If you need to be seen, either a home visit will be arranged or you will be directed to your nearest Primary Care Emergency Centre (PCEC) or nurse-led Minor Injury and Illness Unit (MIIU).

Additionally, some pharmacies will be open over Christmas and New Year, details of which can be found on the NHS Tayside website this link

Dr Neil Nichol, Consultant in Emergency Medicine said: “Over holiday periods, A&E can be very busy. We need to make sure that we are able to see people quickly if they need emergency care. Members of the public have always recognised that A&E is for those with genuine emergencies, however they are not always aware of what alternatives are out there, especially when their own GP is closed. This sometimes leads to them attending A&E only for us to have to explain that we cannot help. This is frustrating for them and diverts us from other patients.

“With some minor illnesses and injuries it is not always necessary to see a doctor or nurse. Helpful advice can be given by pharmacists and NHS 24. However, if you feel you need to see a doctor or nurse but your GP is closed and you don’t think it is an A&E problem, please phone NHS 24. They can give advice and, if necessary, put you in contact with the out-of-hours service.”