NHS appeals for patients to use alternatives for health care following unprecedented demand in A&E

Joint statement from Frimley Health and Care ICS and Frimley Health NHS Foundation Trust:

The NHS is appealing for the local community to consider whether alternative health services can meet their needs before attending the Emergency Departments (A&Es) in Frimley Park Hospital and Wexham Park Hospital. The appeal has been made after both hospitals have seen unprecedented numbers of patients arriving, many of whom could have received the care or treatment they needed without coming to the Emergency Department.

Dr Huw Thomas, Clinical Chair of NHS Frimley Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “There are many ways to access good healthcare across our community – from pharmacies to minor injuries units, GPs and NHS 111. These should be everyone’s first port of call for the best care unless they have serious and life-threatening injuries. I thank you for supporting our frontline staff by accessing these alternatives which also ensures that our Emergency Departments are able to provide the best care for those who really need them.”

The impact of the unexpected increase in patients is causing additional challenges for the Emergency Departments as they introduced a new electronic patient record (EPR) system at the weekend.

Dr Tim Ho, Medical Director at Frimley Health NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the hospitals, said: “The EPR system is a really exciting development for Frimley Health that will mean safer, better and much smoother care for our patients. The new electronic patient record is replacing some 260 separate data systems and paper records. It is the best-in-class system and was chosen by our clinicians, who have also helped to develop it over the last three years.

“We anticipated that to make sure we still provide patients with safe, high quality care our teams may be a little slower than usual while they get used to the new system and so we deliberately chose to introduce it in the summer, as this is when we historically see fewer patients in our emergency departments.

“This unprecedented demand is therefore putting additional pressure on our service and clinical teams and is inevitably impacting on the time patients have to wait to be treated.

“Our teams are doing everything they can to deliver the highest standards of care and patient safety remains our first priority. We will do all we can to minimise any impact to patients, but we do ask for a little understanding and for patients to use alternative services if that is appropriate.”

Help us help you access the right service for your healthcare needs. Unless it’s an emergency remember there’s lots of alternatives for you to make use of:

  • Visit your local pharmacy
  • During the day contact your GP practice via an online consultation or phone
  • Contact NHS 111 online, www.111.nhs.uk or dial 111. If you are calling NHS 111, please be patient. NHS 111 may advise you to contact your GP or its out-of-hours service or attend the Bracknell Minor Injuries Unit.
  • For minor injuries, such as sprains and strains, suspected broken limbs, minor head injuries, visit the Minor Injury Unit at Brants Bridge in Bracknell – open 8am-8pm 7 days a week. X-ray available Sunday to Friday
  • Anyone with a life-threatening condition should call 999.

Dr Thomas said: “Knowing where to go for medical advice or treatment – and keeping basic first aid and medicines – is very important because it means that if we become unwell or we injure ourselves, we’re not wasting time and energy trying to find out what we should do or having to go round the houses to get where we need to be.

“We would always encourage people to have an understanding of the different options regarding our health and with many health services coping with unprecedented demand as they work to recover from the pandemic, having this knowledge has become even more important.”

To find out more information on where to go when feeling unwell, visit www.frimleyhealthandcare.org.uk/living-here/helping-you-to-stay-well/know-where-to-go-when-feeling-unwell/