Only go to Edinburgh Royal Infimary’s A&E if it’s really an emergency – Helen Martin

We, the public, need to help Edinburgh Royal Infirmary by not going to Accident & Emergency unless it really is an emergency, writes Helen Martin

Monday, 11th November 2019, 6:00 am
The accident and emergency at the Royal Infirmary. Picture: Ian Gaorgeson
The accident and emergency at the Royal Infirmary. Picture: Ian Gaorgeson

THE A&E department at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary is so overwhelmed and struggling with 120,000 patients a year, bosses admit some people will die. It cannot cope. But its doors are always open.

The public could help in a number of ways if they didn’t panic and run straight to A&E which, after all, is defined as “accident and emergency”. A ripped off finger nail or a twisted ankle, a black eye or a stubbed toe are not “emergencies”.

The Western General minor injuries clinic deals with everyone over one year old who has sprains, broken bones, wound infections, minor burns and scalds, minor head injuries and back pain, among other things, from 8am to 9pm every day. You can phone them on 0131 537 3481 to make sure it’s the right place.

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Chemist shop pharmacists can deal with some problems on the spot. If a patient can make it to either of them it’s probably not a life-threatening emergency but both tell patients if they must go on to A&E.

Yes, it’s scary for a patient or a parent of a young child to make such a decision on where to go. At night time, there isn’t another option for anything serious.

But we definitely need education – advisory pamphlets and posters about all this in chemist shops, GP surgeries, all hospital clinics, supermarkets, dentists, podiatrists and anywhere else. Otherwise the public can’t be expected to feel confident relieving A&E.