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Appropriate Use of Accident+Emergency

It is important to try an utilise NHS services as best as possible and this very much includes the appropriate use of Accident and Emergency services.

A&E doesn't stand for "anything and everything"!

Each day hundreds of patients flood through the doors of A+Es throughout the country. Most of these patients do need A&E care or require hospital admission because of serious medical problems - but a proportion do not.

Examples of inappropriate uses of A&E:

Coughs and colds - most people would be best just to stay at home or see their local pharmacist
Old injuries or joint problems - are best seen by your GP, at least initially
Queries about medication - these are best dealt with by your GP
Toothache - you need to be seen by a dentist. Hospitals like Kettering General do not have trained dentists in A&E
Trying to use A&E to get a 'second opinion' rather than using the GP service

Examples of appropriate use of A&E:

Cuts which won't stop bleeding or may need stitches to heal properly
Burns which are large, or deep, and need dressings
Limb injuries which are painful or swollen and could be caused by a broken bone
Serious medical problems such as chest pain, collapse, or heavy blood loss.

Often it is very clear if a person needs A&E care but we realise that at other times the public may be unsure of what it is best to do. We would ask them to be aware of the alternatives and to use NHS services wisely

Alternatives to A&E

Self care - With a well stock medicine cabinet and some first aid supplies you can tackle many of the common winter illnesses such as coughs and colds or minor cuts and bruises yourself.

Pharmacies - Your local pharmacist can offer you free, qualified health advice at any time, and no appointment is necessary. From coughs and colds to aches and pains and other minor ailments they can give you expert help and answer questions about prescribed and over the counter medicines.

GP surgery - Your GP surgery can offer you advice on long term illnesses that have flared up, old injuries or joint pains that have worsened, minor medical complaints such as skin conditions, and general feelings of unwellness that are worrying you and could need further investigation. They can also help you with emotional problems like depression.

Out-of-hours GP service - If you require a GP outside of normal opening hours, please contact the GP out-of-hours service. The service is available Mondays to Fridays between 6.30pm and 8am, and 24 hours a day on weekends and bank holidays. The service can be contacted using the new 111 number. Please note that this service is only for patients whose condition cannot safely wait until the next working day and who need advice or treatment from a doctor or nurse.

Internet advice - Can help to signpost you to local services appropriate to you. Try

Call 111 when you need medical help fast but it’s not a 999 emergencyNHS ChoicesThis site is brought to you by My Surgery Website