Local people across County Durham are being urged not to just turn up at hospital but to make an appointment to ensure they get the right care or treatment.
Social distancing and infection precautions mean the space available in local emergency departments and urgent treatment centres to care for people and allow NHS staff to work safely has been reduced. Action is needed to protect both patients and staff, now and into the future.
The move follows changes to how emergency departments and urgent treatment centres (formerly known as walk-in centres) work across the country.
From 1 September 2020, the emergency departments at University Hospital of North Durham (UHND) and urgent treatment centres, at UHND, Bishop Auckland Hospital (BAH), Peterlee and Shotley Bridge Community Hospital (SBCH) will move to an appointment-based system to make them safer for patients and staff during the COVID pandemic.
If the need is not life threatening, then the advice to the public is to contact their local pharmacy, their GP or 111 online in the first instance.
Those that do turn up at an emergency department or to an urgent treatment centre, without an appointment, will still be clinically assessed, however they may be re-directed to a more appropriate service for their needs.
Chief Officer, of County Durham CCG, Dr Stewart Findlay said: “These changes will help people access the care or treatment they need and ensure that we are keeping our patients and staff safe.
“We urge people with a minor injury or illness not to risk being redirected from an emergency department, or from one of the four urgent treatment centres, by just turning up but to contact their GP or NHS 111, out of GP surgery hours, to book an appointment.
“We are grateful for the tremendous support we have seen for the NHS during the COVID-19 Pandemic, and ask our local communities to continue showing this support by following this advice and measures.”
Get the right care for you
- Think Pharmacy
- Make an appointment with your local GP practice
Most GP practices allow you to book online. See your own GP Practice website for more details. Alternatively, call your practice rather than attending in person.
If you are ill or hurt and need help fast, but it is not a 999 emergency:
- Call 111, open 24/7. Your call will be answered by a highly trained operator who will be able to diagnose your symptoms quickly and easily in the convenience and safety of your own home.
- Go to 111.NHS.uk
- Use the NHS app
The online services ask you a series of questions to help identify your symptoms and recommend safe and appropriate action to take. This could include:
- arranging for a prescription to be available for collection from a pharmacy
- booking an appointment at an Urgent Treatment Centre
- arranging an online consultation with a GP
- a telephone or video consultation with a clinical professional.
Tees Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust has introduced a new freephone line which will make it easier for people in mental distress to access urgent help.
People in County Durham, Darlington, Teesside and most of North Yorkshire, including children and older people, can contact their local TEWV crisis service on freephone number 0800 0516171.
Advice on what to do in a mental health emergency is also available at www.tewv.nhs.uk/crisisadvice.
Help us to help you – Take action to be prepared for a medical issue.
- Plan ahead and stock up on:
- Day-to-day medicines like paracetamol and ibuprofen.
- Take plasters with you on days out to cover up scratches, cuts and bruises.
- Make sure you have sun cream for hot weather
- On a hot day, drink plenty of water to keep your body hydrated.
For more helpful advice and tips, visit www.nhs.uk/oneyou/for-your-body
Urgent Treatment Centres
Our Urgent Treatment Centres at University Hospital North Durham, Bishop Auckland Hospital, Peterlee and Shotley Bridge Community Hospital can help with a range of conditions including:
- Sprains and strains
- Suspected broken limbs
- Bites and stings
- Eye problems
- Feverish illness in adults and children
- Minor scalds and burns
- Emergency contraception.
If you have a medical emergency, dial 999.
Emergency Departments can help you if you suffer:
- A loss of consciousness
- Acute confused state and fits that are not stopping
- Chest pain
- Breathing difficulties
- Severe bleeding that cannot be stopped
- Severe burns or scalds
- Severe allergic reactions
- Major trauma such as a road traffic accident.