‘Pharmacy, GP, NHS24 before A&E’ – Health Board issues urgent care guidance

By Lucy Ashton

NHS Greater Glasgow has issued a strong appeal to the public to consider three alternative pathways before heading to A&E with an urgent health concern.

The local Health Board made the appeal as NHSGGC faces significant pressure at the front door to hospitals.

Patients with urgent but non-life threatening health concerns are being urged to consider one of the following alternatives before coming to A&E.

  • Visit NHS Inform or speak to a pharmacist – No appointment is necessary and pharmacies can support with a vast range of minor ailments. The NHS Inform website also has a symptom checker and a range of health tips to manage injuries and illness at home.
  • Call your GP – Your GP practice team can provide treatment, advice and referrals for any urgent health concern which isn’t life threatening and can be accessed over the phone, through video, or face-to-face.
  • Call NHS24 on 111– NHS24 can provide advice on a full range of injuries and illnesses as well as referring you on to NHSGGC’s virtual A&E which gives you access to telephone and video emergency care consultations from the comfort of home.

Only after exploring these steps, should patients consider coming to a physical A&E.

Anyone with life threatening or very urgent health concerns should always call 999 or go straight to your nearest A&E as normal.

The Health Board is also asking families to support NHS staff in helping discharge patients fit to come home at the earliest time possible. If a loved one is scheduled to be discharged, families should speak to the ward to arrange pickup before noon the same day.

Dr Scott Davidson, Deputy Medical Director for Acute Services at NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, said: “Up and down the country, healthcare systems are facing unprecedented challenges. Within NHSGGC we have the busiest and biggest A&Es ​and assessment units in Scotland and our staff are working tirelessly to see and treat our patients as quickly as possible. However, despite this, pressure at A&E is at an all-time high.

“To support our frontline, we are urging people to avoid A&E where possible. It’s incredibly busy and you may face a long wait. Unless it’s very urgent or life-threatening, you will be seen appropriately and faster elsewhere. Think about your health concern and please first explore either going to your pharmacist, your GP, or contacting NHS24. Only after these pathways have been exhausted should you consider coming to an A&E.  Follow this process to get the right care at the right time for yourself, and to support our NHS frontline staff during this challenging period.

“For those with loved ones set to come home from hospital, the earlier you can get arrangements in place to support their discharge, the better. We’re urging any families in this position to contact the ward to arrange to pick up their loved ones before noon or as soon after as possible. This will play an important role in freeing up bed space and supporting us to improve patient flow through the hospital.”

Full information on all alternatives to A&E can be found on the NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde website here: https://www.nhsggc.scot/your-health/right-care-right-place/.

LibDem health spokesperson Alex Cole-Hamilton and Health Secretary Humza Yousaf.

Meanwhile,  Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton hascalled on the Scottish Government to take decisive action to tackle the number of operations lost since Covid and the SNP’s failed recovery plan, after new Liberal Democrat analysis shows that 341,650 operations have been lost since the pandemic first began.

The figures come ahead of Humza Yousaf, the SNP Health Secretary’s statement later this afternoon on the government’s winter plan for the NHS.

Scottish Liberal Democrat analysis of Public Health Scotland figures has compared average pre-Covid levels of NHS activity with the number of operations scheduled over the past two years.

The waiting lists continue to worsen because the number of operations scheduled haven’t reached anywhere close to pre-Covid levels.

Mr Cole-Hamilton commented:  “Yet again, it is alarmingly clear that no meaningful action is being taken to combat the backlog. The continuing loss of these procedures means thousands of people are in pain and suffering as they wait for vital operations.

“Services are being overwhelmed. Every week more and more people are suffering due to a lack of any decisive action from the Cabinet Secretary, it is clear that our NHS needs new hope.

“After record long waits throughout the summer, I’ve been calling for Humza Yousaf to make a statement on how ​he will bring down the backlogs. This afternoon, he needs to ditch the excuses and bring a meaningful strategy to get patients the treatment they need.”

Responding to the news that Liz Truss has refused to rule out real-terms benefits cuts, Liberal Democrat Work and Pensions Spokesperson Wendy Chamberlain MP said: “With one in four people on benefits already in work, it is jaw-dropping to suggest the answer to the people’s worries is to give tax breaks to the richest corporations but cut support for those who need it most.

“The Conservative’s plans to make real terms cut to benefits is heartless and devoid of care. It’s clear that Liz Truss is either so out of touch she doesn’t get it or simply just doesn’t care about millions of families across the country who just want a fair deal.”

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