Southport Hospital’s most senior nurse is urging people to use A&E wisely following “unprecedented” demand for care at the Town Lane site.

Angela Kelly, Interim Director of Nursing and Quality, warned “We have seen a growing number of patients since October which reached unprecedented levels over the past few days.

”A very busy weekend was followed by an unusually busy Monday which included nine patients experiencing cardiac arrests – more than we would expect to see in a single week.

“We created 19 additional bed spaces but, quite simply, patients were arriving quicker than we could discharge them.

”In part this is because many patients we see now are older, frailer and more poorly which means they need more intensive treatment, are prone to complications and can take longer to prepare for discharge.

“Plans are in place to ensure that people who need urgent care get treated but this means some patients may experience delays to some services, or that services are delivered in a slightly different way.

”Our main priority is to maintain patient safety.

“We are not saying don’t use A&E. We are saying use A&E wisely.

”Many people who arrive at A&E, particularly by ambulance following a 999 call, do need hospital care and will be seen immediately. However, there are others whose care needs could be met just as well by their GP, a pharmacist or by treating the symptoms themselves.

“A&E is for people facing life-threatening and serious emergencies such as serious accidents, serious burns, breathing problems, heart attacks and strokes. Please keep it free for them.”

, Chief Executive, added: “We are committed to providing the best possible care for all our patients and their safety will not be compromised. However, I know unprecedented demand for care will have affected the experience of care for some of our patients.

”I want to apologise to anyone who has been inconvenienced or upset by the unavoidable disruption these winter pressures have caused.“

A Hospital spokesperson advised residents of other options available to them.

They said ”You don’t need an appointment at A&E but we’ll make an assessment on arrival and, depending on how urgent treatment is needed, you may have to wait up to four hours.

“The triage nurse or clinician may also signpost you to a different health care provider such as your GP, dentist or pharmacy.

”That’s why you might be better examining your options and choosing another NHS service – or even treating yourself.

“Coughs, colds, sore throats, upset stomachs, general aches and pains, and flu will usually clear up on their own. Keep warm, drink plenty of fluids and, if appropriate, treat with over-the-counter painkillers such as paracetamol.

”Contact a GP or the GP out of hours service for help with injuries or illnesses that won’t go away.

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