Got a broken nail? DON’T go to Havering A&E

A resident with an itchy face, another with a broken fingernail, and someone with a swollen hand, were just some of those clogging Havering’s hospital trust’s heaving A&E departments during one busy day last month.

Now residents are being asked to think carefully about where they seek medical help - after 750 people poured through the doors of local departments during one Monday in March.

A campaign is underway to encourage people to use other medical centres for non life-threatening conditions – but it seems the message is still not getting through.

Many could have been seen more quickly and appropriately by their GP, pharmacist or at a walk-in centre.

A spokesman for the trust said: “The sheer number of patients coming to A&E at Queen’s Hospital, in Rom Valley Way, Romford, and King George Hospital, in Goodmayes, is leading to lengthy waits for non-urgent patients.

“Staff are now suggesting to appropriate patients that they may be seen more quickly if they went to nearby walk-in centres instead.

Patients admitted that they had been unable to get an appointment with their GP that day, and so had come to A&E instead, the spokesman added.

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A campaign run by NHS Outer North East London has been urging people to steer clear of A&E departments unless they need emergency treatment.

It revealed that eight-per-cent of A&E visits could have been dealt with by a pharmacist.

Many more would have been seen more appropriately by their GP or at a walk-in centre.

Walk-in centres, minor injuries units, and polyclinics are generally open for 12 hours a day, seven days a week, with no need for an appointment.

If you are unsure about where you should go for treatment, or want advice on a medical condition, NHS Direct is available 24 hours a day.

Every day you can speak with a nurse or doctor on 0845 46 47 about your symptoms.