Record numbers of people going to A&E is putting pressure on Worthing Hospital.
Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Trust said an extra 2,876 people attended the A&E departments at Worthing and St Richard’s Hospital in Chichester in an eight-month period from April 1 to December 31 in 2012, compared to the previous year.
In literature released by the trust, it said the vast majority of people going to A&E do have a genuine illness or injury, but added many would be better off seeing their GP, going to their local pharmacist, calling NHS Direct or attending other facilities such as walk-in centres.
Staff are seeing large numbers of patients who have conditions such as diarrhoea and vomiting, colds and flu, and mild temperatures.
A&E teams then have to balance the over-riding need to deal with genuine medical emergencies and serious injuries, with the needs of the less seriously ill.
An average day at Worthing Hospital will now see 198 people going to A&E, while at St Richard’s the figure is 168. For the last nine months alone that adds up to more than 100,000 people.
That means trust staff see an average of 15 people arrive in A&E every hour. The upward trend has been going on for years, and shows no sign of slowing.
Dr Amanda Wellesley, emergency care lead at the trust, said: “If someone is worried about their health they will want to get treatment and reassurance – we all understand that.
“But it is essential that people take a few seconds to consider their options, not just head to A&E. In many cases there will be alternatives which are more appropriate, more convenient, and quicker for the patient – they also keep A&E staff free to treat the people who desperately need emergency care.
“If you are seriously ill or have had an accident, come to A&E. But if your condition is not an emergency, then please think through your options. It could save you time, and ease pressure on your local NHS. We need to protect A&E services for those who need them most.”