FEATURE: Patients asked to consider their need carefully

Pilgrim Hospital, Boston.
Pilgrim Hospital, Boston.

Although the hospitals and trusts say they are doing more to help ease the pressure on health services this winter, there is more that patients can do too.

Director of operations at Pilgrim Hospital ,Tina White, told the Standard that people often bypassed GPs and came straight to hospital because they know that they will be seen – even with minor illnesses or injuries.

She said: “People come to us because they know we can’t turn them away, we have a statutory obligation to treat people.”

She said people often don’t know about, or ignore, other services that could be just as helpful to them.

There were also cultural differences with those from other countries who may be used to going to a hospital for all their illnesses.

She said people were, for example, choosing to travel from places such as Skegness to Pilgrim for minor ailments or cuts and scrapes.

Mrs White added: “We do have a GP out of hours service in the A&E department and we do work with GPs.

“When we triage people 
if they could have used a GP we ask them if they would like to.”

There are other places where people can go to get treatment, such as pharmacies, urgent care centres and the 111 number, as well as the NHS Choices website – which Mrs White admits some people may not be aware of.

There are dangers and inconveniences in attending unnecessarily too - such as with illnesses like the norovirus, which can spread across a hospital.

When a patient attends with such an illness, once they have been processed a cleaning team has to be sent in to prevent the spread of germs.

Following an outbreak of illnesses such as norovirus, wards have to be closed and quarantined.

Once cleared the wards then have to undergo a ‘deep clean’, which includes taking the light fittings out and the radiators off the walls and the ward being steam cleaned.

Mrs White said this can mean a ward being out of action for a number of days.