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Hospitals urge patients to avoid A&E unless urgent

PUBLISHED: 12:35 29 February 2016 | UPDATED: 12:35 29 February 2016

Darent Valley Hospital

Darent Valley Hospital

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Darent Valley Hospital is being put under additional strain

The NHS is urging locals to consider using an alternative service to the A&E departments as it faces continued winter pressure.

Those with minor injuries or illnesses are being asked to visit their GP or a walk-in clinic where possible.

In January, Dartford’s Darent Valley Hospital reportedly saw a significant increase in the number of patients using its emergency department.

Will Fleetney, emergency department matron, said: “We are now seeing more than 300 patients a day. In January we saw 800 more patients than during the same period last year and nearly 200 more ambulances attended.

“It is important that people understand what services to use when they need medical attention.

“Nearly a third of the people we see could potentially be seen by their GP or at a walk-in centre or minor injury unit.”

As pressure mounts on emergency departments, the local clinical commissioning group is assuring people they may get seen quicker if they use one of the other services available.

Dr Liz Lunt of Dartford, Gravesham and Swanley CCG said: “Some people wrongly think they will be seen quicker at A&E and choose to go there even though it isn’t the right place for treatment.

“The GPs and nurses at walk-in centres and minor injury units can see you without an appointment. So, if you have a minor injury or illness, you may get seen quicker there than at A&E, as life-threatening and serious emergencies are always prioritised at emergency departments.

“Hospitals prepare for a surge in patients during the winter, but with so many people using A&E who shouldn’t be there, services are under pressure.”

For non-emergency medical calls, call 111 for free.

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