Help our NHS COVID-19 heroes by acting responsibly and only go to A&E in a genuine emergency

Date published: 06 July 2020

The NHS celebrated its 72nd birthday yesterday (Sunday), the day after many local pubs and restaurants re-opened for the first time in months.

To mark this landmark day, emergency doctors and nurses have asked the public to act responsibly over the coming days and weeks, and only go to A&E in a genuine emergency, such as with a suspected stroke, after a serious accident or with a suspected heart attack.

Doctors and nurses at the Northern Care Alliance NHS Group (NCA), which runs the Emergency Departments at , The Royal Oldham, Salford Royal and Fairfield General in Bury, are asking the public to give them the best birthday present ever, by acting responsibly and really considering carefully if A&E is the right place to treat their condition.

Minor conditions can be treated at a local pharmacy, by a GP surgery and even an optician – if in doubt you can check by calling NHS 111 before heading to A&E.

Indeed, going to A&E will be a very different experience in the COVID era, with social distancing of 2m still being enforced at hospital sites.

The wearing of face coverings is also a requirement, as is compulsory use of hand sanitiser.

Family members may not be able to attend your appointment in A&E with you to limit the spread of infection.

From the weekend, to prevent long queues at A&E for those who self-present, and to ensure patients are treated as quickly and safely as possible, the organisation will be stricter than previously about who can be treated in A&E.

Social distancing and queuing measures will be in place to avoid overcrowding and prevent the spread of COVID-19 to protect patients and staff.

Those attending A&E will be asked about their condition when they attend.

Experienced doctors will direct your care, where safe, to other non-hospital based services in your local area.

This is all about safety and keeping the risk of COVID-19 infection down, as well as prioritising those in most need of emergency treatment.

Dr Tom Leckie, Consultant in Emergency Medicine at the Royal Oldham Hospital, said: “We are asking the public to think carefully before attending A&E in the coming weeks.

"COVID-19 is still circulating in our communities and our hospital are continuing to care for sick patients both with COVID-19 and other emergency problems.

"We have already seen an increase in attendances prior to the easing of lockdown measures last weekend.

"We are expecting our service to remain busier than usual which may result in delays for you if your condition is not considered an emergency.

"We will be prioritising treatment for those who are a genuine emergency case above those with minor conditions.

"We would encourage everyone to think which is the correct service for their needs and use 111, or other appropriate local health services, for advice before attending in all but emergency situations.”

The NHS 111 telephone advice service is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Calls to the service are free from landlines and mobile phones.

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