TOO many people are using the accident and emergency department of the hospital without needing to be there.
That’s according to a recent survey carried out on patients who had used the service in a typical week.
One in five of those could have had their problem solved by a GP or used the Urgent Care Service.
So what does make someone rush off to the hospital? Is it blind panic? Or have they been referred there by their GP?
According to the figures 94 per cent of people surveyed were registered with a GP but only 14 per cent had tried to contact them before they went to A&E.
Which means that people aren’t even going to see the doctor first before they rush off seeking help for an emergency. However, 98 per cent of people could name an alternative with 70 per cent able to name several.
So why aren’t people using them? The hospital service, and its A&E department are much maligned, but if people are flooding the place with problems that could be easily sorted, at a much faster rate, then how are staff supposed to cope?
I have been lucky in that I’ve only ever experienced the accident and emergency department twice, both times for legitimate problems, one was for an x-ray, the other for severe blood loss and I know that waiting times can be a problem.
However, how much time would be saved if people first went to their GP or alternative source to seek assistance? A lot.
I can understand the issues that arise if you have a health problem outside of GP opening hours, or you can’t get in to see your doctor thanks to a packed schedule but there is a drop-in centre that can be used pretty much 24 hours a day.
And sometimes you can have a problem that comes on so quickly you have no idea what to do or you read up on it, wrongly diagnose the symptoms to be more severe than first thought and then rush off in a blind panic fearing the worst.
Whereas really they could sit at home, get some rest and seek assistance if the problem persists.
Another problem is serial return patients. Those who are back and forth between home and the hospital with problems that could be sorted in other ways.
Over a third of the patients who were included in the survey had been in A&E within the last six months. I know different things can happen to people and it may not be the same problem, but come on.
I am not much for worrying. That’s not something I’m showing off but a number of things happen to me that I have not gone to the doctors or hospital for, happy to let them run their course.
And I have to ignore the pleas of people who tell me I should be at the doctors telling them that if it persists for too long then I’ll go.
Maybe I’m scared of what the doctor may say about the various problems I have had.
Or maybe I am more inclined to ride a problem out before crying emergency.