‘Stay away from over-stretched Hertfordshire hospitals’

East of England Ambulance Service called to more than 20 collisions this morning

East of England Ambulance Service called to more than 20 collisions this morning - Credit: Archant

Desperate health chiefs in Welwyn Garden City have pleaded for people not to go to hospital unless seriously ill or injured as they are in danger of being overwhelmed with work.

Across Hertfordshire this week, hospital casualty departments, GP practices, ambulances, and community services have been deluged by patients.

Dr Hari Pathmanathan, GP and chairman of the East and North Hertfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group, which is based in Parkway, Welwyn Garden City, said: “Our hospitals are under extreme pressure which is why it’s vital that everyone understands the urgency of the situation and what you can do to protect our essential hospital services this winter.

“The accident and emergency departments at our hospitals only have the capacity to treat people who have serious, life-threatening or dangerous conditions.

“Ambulances should only be called in genuine emergencies. If you use emergency services incorrectly you are risking the lives of others and won’t get the best treatment for your illness.

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“If you come to A&E in Hertfordshire with a minor condition or illness, your care will not be a priority and you will face an extremely long wait. You may also be sent away to visit a pharmacist or GP.

“If you call 999 for an ambulance and your life is not at risk, you could endanger the life of another person in desperate need of emergency care.

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“So the best thing to do if you are feeling unwell and are not sure of the right service to help you is to call 111. The NHS 111 service will give you advice on the service best placed to meet your needs. That could be a pharmacy, a GP or practice nurse, minor injuries unit or urgent care centre and they will tell you the nearest one to where you are.

“Please do not come to hospital with common winter illnesses, such as chest infections, coughs and colds, diarrhoea or vomiting.”

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