Health chiefs urge patients to avoid Colchester A&E where possible

Colchester General Hospital.

Colchester General Hospital. - Credit: Su Anderson

North Essex health chiefs are urging people to use alternatives to A&E in a bid to relieve the pressure on Colchester General Hospital.

The North East Essex Clinical Commissioning Group (NEE CCG) is encouraging people with lesser injuries to get help from walk-in centres, minor injury units, or from their GP or pharmacists.

Colchester General Hospital declared a major internal incident yesterday as it neared patient capacity.

The incident is expected tolast another week, and so far 18 non-urgent operations have been cancelled.

Although the NEE CCG has long been campaigning for patients to choose the most appropriate form of treatment, it hopes the latest plea will act as a short-term way of relieving pressure on the hospital.

Dr Shane Gordon, chief clinical officer at the NEE CCG, said: “A&E should only be used for critical or life-threatening situations requiring medical attention, such as loss of consciousness, heavy blood loss, suspected broken bones, persistent chest pain, difficulty breathing, overdoses or poisoning.

“It is vital that emergency services are free to help people with the greatest need. Patients with minor injuries which do not require a visit to A&E can also be treated at medical centres or minor injury units across north east Essex.

“This will significantly help to relieve pressure on the hospital’s A&E teams and reduce waiting times for all patients.”