Patients who turn up at A&E with ‘minor’ injuries and illnesses will be turned away by medics – from today.
They will instead be directed to Haywood Hospital’s walk-in centre which operates from 7am to 9.30pm every day.
It means the under-pressure accident unit at the Royal Stoke University Hospital will now only see patients with a ‘major’ injury or illness.
It is an attempt to free up resources at A&E as more and more patients who have tested positive for coronavirus are dying at the Royal Stoke.
The new rules come into force at 8am on Monday, March 30.
‘Minor’ injuries and illnesses can include:
- Wounds needing stitches;
- Ear infections;
- Sprains and strains;
- Suspected broken bones;
- Bites and stings;
- Minor head injuries;
- Minor burns;
- Severe sore throats.
Patients should only attend A&E or call 999 for serious and life-threatening conditions, such as severe bleeding, loss of consciousness, suspected strokes, chest pains or breathing difficulties.
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Orthopaedic surgeons and emergency nurse practitioners have been moved from the Royal Stoke to join the walk-in centre team at the Burslem hospital.
Minor injuries at Stafford’s County Hospital will be seen at its fracture clinic between 9am and 6pm.
Urgent and emergency care clinical director Doctor Ann-Marie Morris said: “We are asking the public to consider if they are in need of emergency care and to make an informed choice on attendance. Patients who attend Royal Stoke with a minor injury will be re-directed to Haywood Hospital’s walk-in centre and those attending with minor injuries at County Hospital will be directed to the fracture clinic.
“These changes are vital so that we can focus on prioritising care to our sickest patients while also keeping patients safe and free from risk while in the emergency departments.”
Haywood Hospital is operated by Midlands Partnership NHS Foundation Trust
Managing director Jennie Collier said: “In such unprecedented times for the NHS, it’s critical that we work together to maintain the safety of patients, the public and our staff.
“Haywood Hospital’s walk-in centre can treat a wide range of minor conditions and injuries.”
Health campaigner Ian Syme is not surprised by the latest move.
The North Staffordshire Healthwatch leader said: “There will be quite a few people who don’t know where the Haywood is and it is not that easily accessible by public transport. It is also not a big area so people must respect the social distancing instruction which is imperative in controlling the spread of the virus.”
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