East Kent Hospitals is encouraging people with minor injuries or illnesses to get to know their local health services, so they can make wise choices this winter.
More than a third of the 13,120 people who attended east Kent’s emergency departments in Ashford and Margate in November needed the hospital’s minor injury or GP service rather than emergency care.
“Each emergency department does provide services for minor injuries or illnesses, but the waits in these departments are often much longer than in other urgent care services, such as a local minor injuries unit, because emergency patients take priority,” said East Kent Hospitals’ Medical Director, Dr Paul Stevens. “By getting to know where your local minor injury units are, you can get faster treatment for a range of illnesses and injuries such as sprains, strains, fractures, minor cuts, wounds, insect and animal bites, eye injuries and burns and scalds.
“This will also keep the emergency departments free for patients who need emergency treatment or a hospital bed, and for people who are unable to travel,” he added.
To help people with a minor injury or illness get the treatment they need faster, east Kent’s NHS has launched a guide to local services and the conditions they treat.
An average of 437 people attended Margate and Ashford’s emergency departments each day in November.
Data collected by the Trust shows that in November 69.56% were treated, admitted or discharged within the target time of four hours at Ashford and Margate, compared with 99.75% for patients who attended a minor injury unit.
This waiting time is an improvement on October’s performance of 62.6%, equating to around 1,000 additional people being treated, admitted or discharged within four hours in east Kent’s emergency departments in November.
Kent’s NHS also has a number of apps to help people find the right health service nearest to them. The Health Help Now app provides practical advice for all health services, including local pharmacies. The WaitLess app combines current waiting times at all minor injury units, with up-to-the-minute travel information to help people decide where to head to for faster treatment.
The Trust has a long-term strategy which includes significant investment in larger emergency departments and co-locating specialist services so that patients are seen faster by teams of experts working together.
Under the two potential options for emergency care being put forward, both potential options include local minor injuries and urgent care centres for local people.
The NHS in East Kent is planning to take its proposals out to public consultation in spring 2018.