Dartford hospital issues plea to stay away from A&E as it faces "severe strain"
PUBLISHED: 11:08 12 January 2017 | UPDATED: 11:48 12 January 2017
People with non-serious conditions have been urged to make alternative care arrangements
Darent Valley Hospital has urged people to stay away from A&E if possible as it faces “severe strain” due to rising demand.
The hospital has seen hundreds more patients using its emergency services this winter - an average of 336 per day in December, compared with 266 per day in December 2015.
As a result, it is urging people to consider alternatives wherever possible, including GPs, walk-in centres and minor injuries units (MIUs).
The hospital pointed out that there are MIUs at hospitals in Gravesham, Sittingbourne and Sheppey, which can deal with cuts, sprains, minor burns and other injuries.
News of the strain on the A&E department comes shortly after the British Red Cross declared a “humanitarian crisis” in NHS hospitals - a claim that was strongly rejected by Prime Minister Theresa May.
A spokesperson for the hospital said: “We are working hard with our partners across the local health economy to free beds that are currently occupied by patients who are ready to leave hospital, but this is a slow process.
“We are asking people in our local community who need non-emergency care to visit their GP, Walk-in Centre or Minor Injuries Unit to get the most appropriate treatment they need, rather than visiting A&E.
“You will be helping to free more staff to deal with genuine emergencies and lifesaving care provided by A&E. If you are unsure of which service you need, call NHS 111 for advice.
“A severe cold snap has been forecast for the end of the week. If you are elderly or have elderly friends or relatives, keeping warm and hydrated could help to save an emergency admission to hospital.
“Older people are vulnerable to dehydration and need to drink regularly to stay healthy. They are at particular risk of urine infections, confusion and falls if they become too dehydrated. The recommended amount of non-alcoholic fluid is 1,600ml for women and 2,000ml for men. That’s equivalent to about 6 to 8 glasses of water a day.”