PEOPLE in the county are being encouraged to think whether a visit to an accident and emergency department is essential during the busy Easter holidays.
NHS Milton Keynes and Northamptonshire is warning people to “Choose Well” and to be aware of the health services available in the county to avoid putting additional pressure on hospitals.
It comes after figures revealed that in 2010 to 2011, approximately 65,000 people who attended A&E in the county were sent away without requiring any treatment, at a cost of about £3.4m.
Dr Darin Seiger, chairman of Nene Commissioning, said: “We know that the Easter holidays are traditionally a busy time for the health service, and we need to ensure that people make themselves aware of the alternative services that are available.
“If you use the right service, this will not only save you time but also ensure that the busy staff at A&E can concentrate on treating the most serious cases.
“In most instances, there are a range of alternative services you could use, from minor injury units to walk in centres, GPs and pharmacies, that may suit your needs better.”
Cuts, bruises, bumps and grazes are some of the most common occurrences when children are off school and most can be treated by self-care, an NHS spokesman said.
Advice is available from NHS Direct, which operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week on 0845 46 47.
Alternatively Corby Minor Injuries Unit, based at the Willowbrook Health Complex, in Cottingham Road is open from 8am to 6pm Monday to Friday and 9am to 6pm on weekends and Bank Holidays.
For after-hours care the Northamptonshire Out of Hours Service is available on 03336 664 664 between 6.30pm and 8am on weekdays and 24 hours a day at weekends.
A&E departments are only for the most urgent care, including serious accidents or medical emergencies.
For more information on the options visit the website www.northamptonshire.nhs.uk/choosewell.