Make sure A&E is what you need as Northamptonshire hospitals 'under extreme pressure'
Northamptonshire's hospitals are under extreme pressure and people need to make sure they definitely need to go to A&E before just turning up.
That is according to Kate Holt, the chief executive of Healthwatch Northamptonshire, an independent organisation which supports the NHS in the county and stands up for patients.
Northampton General Hospital (NGH) admitted to experiencing high demand in A&E after a disabled man waited on a trolley in a side room for 17 hours before being given a bed.
Ms Holt insisted the stress on hospitals is a national issue that needs to be addressed by the Government but people in Northamptonshire can do something to help.
"We know for a fact that Kettering General Hospital and Northampton General Hospital are under extreme pressure," she said.
"The best thing that people can do, and we at Healthwatch Northamptonshire can do, is to encourage people not to go to the hospital in the first place if it is not an emergency but to call 111 or see a pharmacist or GP."
Stephen Rodgers discharged himself after around 28 hours at NGH following a fall in the shower on February 3.
He did not blame the hard-working doctors or nurses but believes something needs to change to relieve the pressure on understaffed hospitals.
An NGH trust spokesman said 447 patients attended the emergency department on the same day as Stephen.
Ms Holt said: "As a community, we need to support the hospitals by making the best use of other services and viewing A&E as a last resort."
Healthwatch Northamptonshire is involved at all levels of health and social care in the county, including hospitals, GP surgeries and care homes.
Ms Holt and her team discuss any issues with the NHS organisations that run those services, with a focus on making sure patients' voices are heard.
She has nothing but praise for the work of NHS staff in Northamptonshire but welcomes complaints from the public as a chance to get feedback.
"Healthwatch Northamptonshire cannot deal with complaints but we can signpost people to where they can complain as it's important feedback and a way for the NHS to improve services," she said.
"We collate all information received and discuss our findings with the relevant hospital, care home, GP etc. so that they can include the patient voice in improving services."
Anyone who wants to contact Healthwatch Northamptonshire should either call 0300 002 0010, text 07951 419331 or email [email protected]