Healthy living

Campaign highlights A&E time-wasters

A and E "Poo on shoes"

A woman unable to remove her false nails and a pet owner bitten by a guinea pig are among the so-called patients who have turned up at A&E departments, according to research.

Others include a woman asking for help because her hand had turned blue, only to discover that it was caused by dye from her jeans; a man concerned about his sick dog and a woman needing her toenails cut because she couldn't get a chiropodist appointment.

A new NHS campaign has been launched to ask people to think twice before heading off to A&E, after figures have shown that up to a quarter of people who attend A&E could have taken care of the problem themselves or be seen elsewhere.

It's estimated that people attending A&E for "inappropriate" reasons cost the NHS at least £80 million to £100 million a year, and each individual visit costs a minimum of £59.

The Choose Well campaign features film clips played by actors of some of the genuine, but trivial requests for emergency assistance NHS staff have encountered. The films are available on YouTube.

One mother took her child to A&E because they had dog poo on their shoes and asked for staff to clean it off, while a man called 999 because he was suffering from constipation.

Meanwhile, another woman arrived at A&E because she had paint in her hair, and one man even turned up suffering from a hangover.

Dr Mike Cheshire, medical director at NHS North West, which is co-ordinating the national campaign, said: "The tales told in the videos are very funny and they are extreme cases, but there are very serious issues behind them.

"Every minute that an A&E doctor or nurse spends treating very minor problems reduces the time they can spend attending to those who have suffered heart attacks, strokes and life-threatening injuries."

This article was published on Mon 7 November 2011



Image © Timothy Large iStockPhoto


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