West Suffolk: Enjoy the sun...but don’t take every injury to A&E
11:03 21 March 2014
The head of a prominent Suffolk clinical group has urged more people to get outdoors to improve “mental health and physical well-being”.
But with the region’s hospitals reporting an increasing number of emergency patients each year Dr Christopher Browning, chair of West Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group (WSCCG), said it was vital that people do not take any resulting minor injuries to A&E.
Writing in a blog on the WSCCG’s website, Dr Browning said: “It’s now officially spring and many of us will be looking forward to spending more time outdoors enjoying the (hopefully) improved weather.
“Getting out and about is great for mental health and physical well-being and I would encourage people to enjoy the outdoors as much as possible. This could include walking, gardening, cycling or trips to the coast or countryside.”
Dr Browning added: “To avoid unexpected injury or illness spoiling your time outdoors it is important to know what to do, who to ask for help and where to go for medical treatment should you need it.”
The GP said people should make sure they have got a well-stocked medicine cabinet to enable more self-treatment and to prevent a mad dash to the surgery or pharmacy.
He added: “If you do feel unwell or have a minor accident it is important not to immediately rush off to your hospital’s emergency department. The emergency department is there to treat seriously ill people. So stop for a moment to think what’s the best course of action.”
A spokeswoman for WSCCG said the change in weather often led to a rise in A&E cases, with people presenting often quite minor injuries.
The emergency unit at West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds, like others across the UK, has been put under pressure in recent years due to significant increases in the number of A&E attendances.
In 2012/2013 the hospital saw around 3,600 more patients than in 2011/12.
That trend continued in 2013/14 with 288 extra people coming to A&E in April than the previous year and 94 more emergency admissions.
Dr Browning said that if people did not know where to go for treatment they should use the 111 phone number.
He added: “If you don’t know what to do then you should call NHS 111.
“The NHS 111 service is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, is free to call from landlines and mobiles and is staffed by trained advisers who are based in Ipswich.”