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"Use GP services and minor injuries units, not A&E” – Minister urges

Health and Social Services Minister Mark Drakeford is encouraging people in Swansea and Neath Port Talbot to use the area’s minor injuries units and GP services instead of A&E unless they are seriously ill.

The Minister spoke during a visit to Neath Port Talbot Hospital’s minor injuries unit where waiting times at the unit are often considerably shorter than those at the A&E departments at Morriston Hospital, in Swansea, and the Princess of Wales Hospital, in Bridgend.

The minor injuries unit at Neath Port Talbot Hospital, in Baglan, is open 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week and treats people over the age of one. It offers a swift and effective service, with almost 60% of patients treated and discharged in less than an hour, and nearly nine out of 10 in less than two hours.

Feedback from patients who use the service is very positive, with the speed and quality of the service topping satisfaction surveys. The number of people using the minor injuries unit is also increasing from around 33,800 in 2013 to 38,500 in 2014.

However there is still plenty of scope for even more people to use the unit instead of going to A&E.

Experienced clinicians at the unit are able to assess and treat:

  • Limb injuries, which include broken bones (fractures) and dislocations of the  
    shoulder, finger and toes
  • Grazes, wounds and minor burns
  • Head or face injuries, without loss of consciousness
  • Minor neck injuries, where the patient is mobile and has no pins and needles in arms
  • Minor back injuries, not as the result of twisting or lifting
  • Foreign bodies in eyes, ears and nose
  • Non-penetrating eye and ear injuries
  • Rib injuries where there is no coughing up of blood or chest infection
  • Insect, animal and human bites
  • Insect stings
  • Assaults.

Professor Drakeford said:

“Accident and emergency departments across Wales are extremely busy at the moment but we know many people attending A&E do not need to be there. A&E is there to treat immediately life-threatening and other serious injuries, not for minor injuries and illnesses.

“I encourage people to think carefully before attending A&E – and use minor injury units, their local pharmacy, GP surgery and out-of-hours GP services instead.

“Almost all patients who attend Neath Port Talbot hospital’s minor injury unit for treatment are admitted or discharged within two hours.

“Minor injuries units have a significant role to play in ensuring people with less serious injuries and conditions receive treatment quickly and they help to reduce pressure on major A&E departments.”

Andy Macnab, a consultant in emergency medicine, at Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board, said:

“Minor injury units offer a wide range of care for many patients with minor injuries, and are an excellent alternative to emergency departments, which are designed to treat people who are seriously ill or injured. If more patients used these units they would not only have much shorter waits on the whole, but it would free up emergency department staff to treat patients who are very sick.”

 

Channel website: https://www.icaew.com

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