Amy Jones

Choose the right service for your need - Medical Matters

Torbay Weekly

This week, Consultant in Emergency Medicine at Torbay Hospital, Amy Jones talks about increased demands across healthcare services and emergency departments, and asks that you think carefully about the right service for your need when you feel unwell, or are injured, to help reduce pressure.

Summer is often a quieter time for hospitals, as a lot of the normal winter illnesses, such as respiratory infections, and diarrhoea and vomiting, clear up over the warmer months.

However, in Torbay and South Devon, we can be equally busy during the summer months as our population rises with lots of people visiting our beautiful coast and countryside. To put this in context, we serve a resident population of approximately 286,000 people, plus about 100,000 visitors at any one time during the summer holiday season.

For the past two years, we have seen continued high demand across all our services from adult social care to community services to hospital services. At times, this has affected our ability to respond to people as quickly as we would wish and waiting times for many services have continued to grow. We are very grateful for the patience, kindness and understanding the people of Torbay and South Devon have shown our teams.

Our Emergency Department (Accident & Emergency) has continued to remain busy this year and colleagues have been working extremely hard to care for our patients.

We understand that sometimes you may not be sure if your pain or illness is an emergency and we are always here for you when you need us. But we are asking that you think carefully about the right service for your need when you feel unwell, or are injured, to help reduce pressure.

Our Emergency Department is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. We are all part of a specialist team of nurses, paramedics and doctors who are trained to assess and treat medical and surgical emergencies, including chest pain, stroke, major trauma i.e. road traffic collision, feelings of self-harm or suicide, loss of consciousness, a sudden confused state, breathing difficulties, fits that are not stopping, severe bleeding which can’t be stopped · severe allergic reactions (anaphylaxis), severe burns or scalds.

When we become very busy within the department, it can lead to a delay in staff getting to those people who need our help most.

So how can you help?

If you have an urgent but non-life-threatening health problem, please contact NHS 111. You will be directed to the right service whether that is self-care, a pharmacy, a GP, Newton Abbot Urgent Treatment Centre (UTC). Totnes Minor Injury Unit (MIU) or our Emergency Department (Accident & Emergency).

You can self-care for many conditions at home with your first aid kit, including grazes, scrapes and hangovers. A local pharmacy can provide health advice and help with minor illnesses like colds, rashes, sunburn, hay fever and diarrhoea. You don’t need an appointment and they can even provide you with the right medication at the same time.

It is always important to understand the medications you are taking and ensure that you have an adequate supply but pharmacies can also offer advice if you have accidentally run out of medications on prescription or are away from home.

Unless you have a fever or swelling to your face, we will only be able to advise you to see a dentist if you a dental problem, and the appropriate painkillers to buy over the counter.

Your GP is normally the best person to see if you have long term problems that are getting worse or changing. Unfortunately, we do not have access to your GP records or any letters from specialists outside our Trust, and the Emergency Department is unlikely to be able to get any tests or appointments brought forward unless it is an emergency.

Other available services include:

  • A 24/7 mental health telephone line on 0808 196 8708 if you, or someone you know, is struggling with their mental wellbeing
  • For suspected sexual infections, advice or information as well as emergency contraception and support with unplanned pregnancy contact the Devon Sexual Health service on 0300 303 3989

By choosing the right service for your healthcare need, you will help get you the best advice quicker and will also help reduce pressure on our Emergency Department and help those who need our services most.