Kettering hospital asks patients 'to think before they come to A&E' as attendances soar

With demand for health services increasing, one patient is preparing to pull out his own tooth with pliers because he can't get a GP appointment

Friday, 18th June 2021, 2:09 pm
Updated Friday, 18th June 2021, 2:10 pm
Emergency admissions at KGH have soared in recent weeks.
Emergency admissions at KGH have soared in recent weeks.

KGH chiefs have asked sick members of the public to 'think' before turning up at A&E as patient numbers have soared.

The emergency department saw an increase of more than 300 patients visiting the A&E last week, in comparison to the start of April, with vital medical services stretched.

Patients with non-life threatening illnesses or injuries have been urged to seek medical assistance from other NHS services including GPs and pharmacies, NHS 111 or the Corby Urgent Care Centre.

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Fay Gordon, chief operating officer at KGH said: “Over the past few weeks we have seen a growing increase in attendances to our emergency department.

“Last week we saw an increase of over 300 patients visiting the emergency department compared to the first week of April. Many of those attending could have received medical help from our other local NHS services including pharmacies, GP services, NHS 111 or the Corby Urgent Care Centre.

“We would ask that our local community please think before they come to the hospital. If your illness or injury is not life threatening please think about whether the emergency department is the right place for your care. If you are unsure or need urgent medical advice NHS 111 online and phone services are there to help”.

However, with many patients have been unable to make an appointment with their GP because of a massive spike in demand as lockdown restrictions lift.

Lakeside patients are struggling to get an appointment.

People who would usually have been contacting their GP as and when necessary have stored up ailments only seeking medical help now.

Patients of super surgery Lakeside Healthcare, with practices including Lakeside Surgery and Forest Gate Surgery in Corby, Brigstock Surgery, Headlands Surgery in Kettering and Oundle Medical Practice, have been calling for changes after many were unable to make appointments.

After weeks of problems, MP for Corby Tom Pursglove visited the practice on behalf of concerned constituents, asserting that it was not a 'blame game' and maintaining that the 'fantastic' healthcare workers have been working incredibly hard throughout the pandemic.

Mr Pursglove said: "As I suspected, over the course of the easing of ‘lockdown’ restrictions, demand for appointments has increased at a rapid rate as people rightly seek to address health concerns they may have been putting off seeing to and unfortunately, this has meant that appointments have been booked up very quickly.

An NHS call handler

"The surgery are doing their best to address this demand and a new telephone system is being installed to better triage the requests coming in, which should also no doubt help to address some of the issues that have been raised around call waiting times and difficulties getting through, both of which I know can be hugely frustrating."

Lakeside Corby were also keen to highlight that although many people are keen to see their GP, this may not always be the best or only option for addressing the healthcare concern with other types of healthcare practitioners available as well as using online technology to ease pressures.

One Lakeside Corby patient has been so frustrated by being unable to see his doctor for a recurring dental infection, that he has said he may resort to pulling out his own tooth with pliers.

The 49-year-old Corby man first visited the doctor with an acute bacterial infection for which he was prescribed antibiotics. Unfortunately the infection has not cleared up as a result of the underlying cause being dental.

East Midlands Ambulance Service say they are working closely with healthcare partners

He said: "I was told that if the infection continues I must go back to see my GP to get more antibiotics. I've tried so many times to get an appointment.

"They can't give me a prescription over the phone and when I go online to get an appointment it says unless I'm a woman wanting a smear test my appointment will be cancelled.

"I'm getting worn down by the system. It's impossible. I can't get an NHS dentist and I can't go private because I'm currently on benefits.

"I call NHS111 everyday because I worry about developing sepsis.

"Soon I will only have two options - go to A&E which I don't want to do - or I will take a pair of pliers and pull out my tooth at the desk at the Urgent Care Centre so they can stop the bleeding. It's really horrible. Something has got to be done."

With patients being steered away from A&E, and asked to use NHS111, those calls handled by East Midlands Ambulance Service are triaged with call backs from clinicians.

Ben Holdaway, EMAS director of operations, said: “We continue to work closely with partners across the healthcare system to manage the increase in demand currently facing the NHS.

"The national procedure is that if the patient who has spoken to an NHS111 call handler and deemed to need a Category 3 (the patient requires an urgent response - but it is not a life-threatening or serious emergency) ambulance response will receive a clinical assessment from a clinician within NHS 111.

"If the patient is not assessed by NHS111 within 30 minutes, then the call is transferred through to the local 999 ambulance service. Once the patient’s call has been transferred to us, we will continue to monitor the patient via phone calls from our clinical assessment team who will assess to ensure the patient’s condition has not changed.

"In June so far, 52 per cent of the calls which have come through to us via NHS111 have resulted in the patient being transported to hospital or another healthcare setting, meaning our clinicians deemed the patient required further NHS care and it would be unsafe to leave them at home.

"In comparison, in June so far 56 per cent of the calls which have come through to us by direct 999 call have resulted in the patient being transported to another healthcare setting. This is therefore only a four per cent difference."

Corby Urgent Care Centre in Cottingham Road is open every day of the year from 8am to 8pm. During these hours, patients with the right need can walk in and be seen without an appointment.

It can help with minor injuries and some medical conditions that may be getting worse.

For example minor injuries that need additional immediate treatment or investigation, such as sprains or soft tissue injuries, fractures or broken bones, minor burns or scalds and minor head injuries.

It is not for minor illnesses such as colds where advice from a pharmacist may be more appropriate. It is also not for potentially life-threatening emergency or serious condition, such as a suspected heart attack, stroke, sepsis (blood poisoning) or major bleeding.