NHS Lothian warns locals not to bombard A&E as hospitals face ‘unprecedented demand’

By Indigo Stafford

NHS Lothian is pleading with people not to show up at their accident and emergency departments unless their condition is considered life-threatening.

It comes as the health board had to put out a warning on social media to say that all of their emergency departments are “exceptionally busy.”

The post reads: “Our emergency departments at RIE, RHCYP and St John's are exceptionally busy today.

“Please, if you need urgent care that is not life-threatening, call 111. You can be booked in for a hospital appointment later in the day while reducing queues and staff pressures.”

NHS Lothian told Edinburgh Live that patients are having to wait longer for care than they would like due to “unprecedented and prolonged levels of demand” on their services.

Jacquie Campbell, Chief Officer, Acute Services, NHS Lothian said: “Our services have been experiencing unprecedented and prolonged levels of demand which is causing real challenges for both acute and community care. We apologise to anyone who has had to wait longer for care, than we would like.

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“Our teams are working tirelessly to ensure that we can continue to prioritise the most clinically urgent patients for example by streamlining services, introducing smarter ways of working, and managing our resources and staff to improve flexibility and support effective bed management at this crucial time.

"We have also been recruiting a large number of staff to our clinical services who will be starting throughout this month."

NHS Lothian is encouraging locals to call 111 for advice before showing up at an emergency department unless their illness is considered life-threatening.

Campbell continued: “To ensure that we can continue to prioritise the most clinically urgent patients, everyone has a part to play. If you think you need to visit A&E, but it's not life threatening, or you think you need to visit a Minor Injury Unit, call NHS 24 on 111 first, day or night.

“NHS 24 will direct you to the right care in the right place, and NHS Lothian is working with NHS24 to provide appointments for minor injury assessments to reduce the length of time spent waiting in busy hospital waiting rooms.

“It is important too to remember that there is self-care information on NHS Inform, and local pharmacies, GPs or dental practices or opticians might be the most appropriate route to treatment and care. If it is an emergency always call 999 or go to your local A&E.”


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