Keep A&E for emergencies

People are being urged to “think carefully” before attending Altnagelvin’s A&E with what may be considered minor ailments.

The Trust is supporting a new regional campaign called ‘Choose Well’ which is raising awareness of the range of health services available to treat everything from a common cold to a major emergency.

Mrs Geraldine McKay, Director of Acute Hospitals at the Western Trust, said: “Traditionally hospitals are very busy places during the winter period.

“We are asking the public to consider the best way to get medical help to assess and quickly treat their illness or ailment.

“A visit to a hospital’s emergency department should only be reserved for an emergency situation. People visit the emergency department for minor ailments, when access to other more appropriate services becomes difficult or they believe they cannot wait for a GP appointment.

“I understand people are concerned for their health but to ensure our emergency staff have the capacity to deal with appropriate emergency cases we are asking the public to think wisely before they visit us.

“Depending on the severity of the illness, patients may wish to speak to a local pharmacist or consult their local GP or GP Out of Hours services in the first instance. However, if you or a family member suspect what you are experiencing is of a more serious nature then do not hesitate to attend the hospital’s Emergency Department or call 999 if necessary.”

Choose Well was launched on Thursday in Belfast by the Health Minister, Edwin Poots. Speaking at the launch of the campaign, Minster Poots said: “The Choose Well campaign aims to help people gain a better understanding of the choices available and allows them to get access to the right services quickly, whether it is checking online, a trip to the pharmacy or an appointment with the GP.”