Glasgow’s health board has urged patients only to attend A&E if an issue is “life-threatening” after it emerged that 32% of attendances in one week at the board’s flagship hospital were for minor injuries.
Health boards across the country have struggled to deal with normal service on top of the pandemic, leading to NHS Lanarkshire to move the highest available risk level – dubbed “Code Black” – on Thursday.
An email to staff said there was a “full-blown NHS crisis” and treatments including cancer procedures would be delayed.
According to NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, 32% of attendances at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital A&E department were deemed not to be life threatening, with staff treating injuries including bruising, cut fingers and lower back pain.
On Saturday, Scott Davidson, the deputy medical director at NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, urged patients to think before heading to emergency department.
“Unfortunately, our emergency departments are still seeing people who do not need to be there, with minor ailments such as dental pain, urinary tract infections, sore throats of less than one day, period pain, cuts and scrapes,” he said.
“Attending A&E with these minor conditions not only adds to the pressure facing our staff but also impacts on waiting times.
“We would urge everyone that, unless their condition is life-threatening, they should not attend an Emergency Department.
“If you are in any doubt about who you should contact, please call NHS24 on 111 to access the appropriate care. If necessary you will be given an onward referral to our flow navigation centre team, who will call you back and undertake a virtual consultation.
“This can be undertaken in your own home and may mean the condition can be treated without you leaving home. Should you need to attend an emergency department, the team will instruct you to do so.”
Emergency departments across Scotland have been stretched in recent weeks, along with the ambulance service, prompting requests for support from the military and fire service.