Use pharmacists not A&E, public urged

Use pharmacists not A&E, public urged

The public has been urged to make better use of pharmacists and NHS helplines rather than putting strain on the beleaguered NHS by visiting accident and emergency departments unnecessarily.

NHS chief nursing officer Jane Cummings said that with the flu season now underway and a spike in cases this week, hospitals are facing unprecedented strain.

Furthermore, NHS England research has discovered that in 2016-17, more than nine million people received solely advice and no further treatment from A&E departments. This could have been given over the phone or by visiting a community pharmacist.

In total, 17 million visits to hospital a year may be needless and eight million outpatient appointments are being wasted by patients failing to turn up, costing the NHS in excess of £1 billion.

Ms Cummings commented: "We are asking patients and the public to use the health service responsibly to help ensure that care is readily available for everyone who needs it."

A previous report from the Local Government Association found patients seek help from A&E every year for minor ailments such as insect bites, the common cold and even dandruff.

Many people still also head to hospital when they have flu, despite frequent campaigns reminding the public that it cannot be treated with antibiotics and is easily spread in communal areas.

Meanwhile, it is estimated that flu cases have risen by 67 per cent in just a week in England, with around 3.7 million people coming down with the illness over the festive period, Public Health England said. This means the flu season proper is now at its peak in across England, Scotland and Wales.

Head of NHS England Simon Stevens recently called for a significant increase in funding for the organisation, saying that £110 billion for the entire NHS is not enough.

A joint analysis by the King's Fund, the Nuffield Trust and the health foundation estimated that a further £4 billion is needed in 2018 to sustain appropriate levels of patient care.