Pressure on Nottinghamshire A&E departments prompts plea for patients to book GP appointments

By Adam Toms

A huge rise in visitors to emergency departments over the summer has prompted Nottingham University Hospitals (NUH) Trust to urge people to book GP appointments for non-urgent conditions.

There were 17,576 visitors to NUH A and E in August, which was almost 50% higher than the 12,021 people attending in January, which is traditionally a tougher month for hospitals and this time also included a winter wave of Covid-19.

The department, having operated at Operational Pressures Escalation Level (OPEL) four in September, is now at OPEL three. OPEL one is the lowest level.

According to NHS guidance, OPEL three status denotes that the local health and social care system is experiencing major pressures compromising patient flow and continues to increase.

Further urgent actions are required across the whole system by all A&E Delivery Board partners, and increased external support may be required.

A trust spokesperson said: "The NHS in Nottingham and Nottinghamshire continues to provide safe treatment and care where people need it, despite the pressures we are seeing ahead of winter.

"GP practices are open as they have been throughout the pandemic and patients in Nottingham can get same day treatment for urgent illnesses and injuries at the Urgent Treatment Centre on London Road.

"In August over 454,000 GP appointments were booked across Nottinghamshire, with 58% being face-to-face and 52% being the same day or next day.

"Local pharmacies also offer a range of over-the-counter medicines for the most common winter illnesses and can offer medical advice without an appointment."

This comes as the chief executive of the trust, Tracy Taylor, resigned from her post on Tuesday to focus on her recovery from Covid-19.

A report commissioned by the Government’s Chief Scientific Advisor, Sir Patrick Vallance, stated in July that a combination of Covid-19, the flu, and RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus) could present additional difficulties for the NHS during the winter.

Booster shots of Covid-19 vaccines and flu jabs are available for Nottinghamshire residents aged 50 and over and/or with a health condition which increases the risk of Covid-19.


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