People with non-urgent illnesses urged to stay away from A&E

People with non-urgent injuries and illnesses are being urged to stay away from A&E as part of a campaign by NHS chiefs to ease pressure on hospitals.

NHS East London and the City is launching a poster drive across Tower Hamlets and neighbouring boroughs to encourage more people to go to their GP, pharmacist or health centre.

Allergies, colds, contraception issues and minor injuries are among the complaints that people should not generally expect to have treated A&E, the campaign states.

The drive is designed to “improve wait times and access for everyone”, said Alwen Williams, chief executive of the trust.

She added: “Pharmacists and GPs are widely available and should be used for care and advice. A&E is only for serious injury and illness.”

The campaign posters depict GPs and pharmacists, presented as “local heroes”, alongside small descriptions of what they can assist with.

Among the list of symptoms people are strongly advised to go to hospital for are loss of consciousness, fits that do not stop, persistent chest pain, breathing difficulties and severe bleeding.

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Just over 11,000 people attended Barts and The London’s A&E departments throughout October, the most recent figure from the Department of Health shows.

That was slightly more than September and August.

At Whitechapel’s Royal London hospital specifically, more than 95 per cent of patients were treated within four hours, figures from April to last month show.

That slightly exceeded the government’s national target.

During the same period, the hospital’s A&E department treated an extra 5,203 patients – an increase of almost five per cent compared to the previous year.

The new �650million hospital was recently launched and includes an A&E department that is the size of three football pitches, with a custom-built children’s area.

Across England, there was also a rising demand for A&E services last year, with tens of thousands of patients a month deemed to be “unnecessarily” returning to A&E, despite having been seen the previous week, according to the Department of Health.