The campaign, dubbed ‘Stop. Think: Plan B, not A+E,’ aims to highlight the Walk-in Centre, the Minor Injuries Unit, GP hubs and pharmacies as the main urgent care services in the city.
The five-month advertising campaign will also attempt to relieve pressure on GP practices in the city by encouraging patients to seek advice from NHS 111 or their local pharmacist, highlighting the experience and support these healthcare professionals can offer when GPs are unavailable, close to people’s homes.
Research has found that when in need of urgent care, often people in Sheffield use A+E if they are unable to get an appointment with their GP. The main reason was convenience and speed, with many people believing that they’ll be seen quicker if they skip all other options and head straight to A+E. In reality, patients with minor illnesses or injuries can be seen much quicker by visiting an alternative service.
A new website has been developed which includes information about the services available and when to use them, as well as information on waiting times for each of the urgent and emergency services in Sheffield.
“When you’re unwell, A+E can seem like the quickest solution, but that’s not always the case,” says Dr Terry Hudsen, GP and Chair of NHS Sheffield Clinical Commissioning Group.
“If your issue isn’t an emergency, there’s a wealth of services for you to choose from. These include GP hubs, which are open outside of your usual GP opening times, and the Minor Injuries Unit or Walk-in Centre, which are all open 365 days a year.
“A trip to the pharmacist can also get you the same high level of care, but quicker and closer to where you live or work. Your local pharmacist can help and advise on the best treatment, they can also help you decide whether you need to see a doctor.
He added: “We want to provide the best care possible to people living in Sheffield. We hope with this campaign we can encourage people to take a moment to consider all their care options before heading to A+E.”
Dr Ben Cooper, Clinical Director Acute & Emergency Medicine, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Often we know that some people may come to the Emergency Department (A&E) because they are unsure which service is most appropriate for them. People may also be unaware that many GPs, the Walk-in Centre and Minor Injuries Unit are open late at night and at weekends to accommodate their needs. Having a website with all the information in one place, including a guide on how long people might have to wait, means they can make an informed choice and get the care they need as quickly as possible. In the Emergency Department we will always assess people’s clinical need on arrival, and prioritise the most clinically urgent first. This inevitably means that if people attend who have a less urgent illness or injury they may wait longer than if they had used alternative services available in the city.”
If you need to see a GP when your practice is closed, you can access the GP Hubs. There are a range of NHS urgent and routine healthcare services available on weekday evenings and at weekends through six hubs across Sheffield that are open 365 days a year. You can book appointments for these services through your usual GP practice or by contacting NHS 111 when your GP practice is closed.
Walk-in services treat minor illnesses and injuries:
- The Broad Lane walk in centre is open from 8am to 10pm every day, and sees people of all ages without an appointment.
- The Minor Injuries Unit, at the Royal Hallamshire hospital is open from 8am – 8pm every day of the year and provides treatment for adults with less serious injuries, such as sprains, cuts and grazes. Many people go to A&E with minor injuries, when they could usually be treated much more quickly at the Minor Injuries Unit.
If you are still unsure of which service is right for you, NHS 111 can help. Trained advisors will assess the situation and get you the right care fast.
As well as highlighting how much faster these services can be, ‘Stop. Think’ hopes to show how great pharmacists, the walk-in centre and the minor injuries unit are at treating non-life-threatening issues and how the public can access these service
For more information on the right service to visit when you need urgent care, check out the new website here: www.sheffieldurgentcare.co.uk/.