Alternative options could ease pressure on A&E

Clincal Director of Urgent Care Dr Tony Bleetman
Clincal Director of Urgent Care Dr Tony Bleetman

Patients need to be more aware of the alternative options to accident and emergency before attending hospital, health bosses have said.

The call comes just a few days after Kettering General Hospital issued the second appeal of its kind this year to ask people to avoid attending accident and emergency unless their condition was urgent.

Bosses at the hospital say one way to relieve pressure on the emergency ward is to find out more about alternative services, like Corby’s urgent care centre, which offer treatment for minor injuries and ailments.

Last week’s appeal echoed a similar one in early February, although hospital spokesman David Tomney said the two situations had been very different.

He added: “In early February we had a situation where 95 per cent of our bed capacity was filled. When we issued last week’s appeal we were not anywhere near that level, but we could see that the number of admissions was increasing and we wanted to address it before it got to the same level as in early February.”

The hospital has released figures which say the number of people attending accident and emergency has more than doubled in the last 20 years.

In 1992, an average of 109 patients were seen in accident and emergency each day while in 2012 that figure had risen to 230.

On Tuesday, March 5, 255 people attended accident and emergency. Bosses at the hospital said some of those could have been avoided.

The population of the district has risen by about 15 per cent since 1992.

Hospital chief operating officer Sue Watkinson said: “We can all help by using the safe and effective alternatives to accident and emergency.

“The Urgent Care Centre in Corby can help with urgent medical conditions that can’t wait to see a GP – for example children with high temperatures or people with breathing problems.”

From April 1, the Corby Clinical Commissioning Group will be taking over the financial management of Kettering General Hospital.