Health campaign to ease pressure on casualty wards

Health bosses are stepping up a campaign to ensure that hospital casualty wards in Hull and the East Riding are not swamped over Christmas by people suffering minor ailments who would be better off popping down to the local chemists.

The Know Your Choices campaign aims is to raise public awareness about the role of minor injury units throughout Hull and the East Riding and ensure patients are know where to go for treatment.

The message is that minor injury units are for less serious injuries such as sprains and strains, cuts and wounds, bumps and burns. But pharmacies can offer general health advice and recommend medication to get patients back up to full strength very quickly.

The campaign also underlines that many everyday minor illnesses or symptoms, such as colds, coughs, hangovers and sore throats, can be easily treated at home with a well stocked medicine cabinet and getting plenty of rest.

The clinical executive chairman, NHS East Riding of Yorkshire, Dr Gina Palumbo, said: "I would like to encourage people to use health services wisely and appropriately over the festive period.

"This is always a busy time of year for urgent and emergency services, especially the general practice out of hours service and accident and emergency. You can save yourself time and inconvenience by being aware of the whole range of NHS services that are available.

"If you do need advice about a minor illness or health problem over the Christmas period, NHS Direct or a local pharmacist may be able to help."

Dr David Hepburn, medical director at Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust, said, "It is important that people make appropriate use of the accident and emergency (A&E) department at Hull Royal Infirmary, which is extremely busy at this time of year.

"People who are suffering from a minor illness such as a cough or cold or diarrhoea or vomiting should see their local pharmacy, or NHS Direct to be directed to the most suitable form of treatment for them. A&E is for accidents, emergencies and serious illnesses only."

Simon Hunter, director lead for urgent care at NHS Hull, said: "At this time of year, A&E tend to come under particular strain."