Plea to public as A&E pressures continue at BGH

Borders General Hospital.
Borders General Hospital.

An upsurge in patients seeking accident and emergency treatment at the BGH over the festive period is continuing, according to NHS Borders.

Over the two weeks of Christmas and New Year, more than 1,000 people attended the hospital’s emergency department – the biggest demand on the service since the severe winter of 2010.

A target of treating 95 per cent of patients within four hours of arrival was missed, with 89 per cent being recorded over the fortnight, although that was marginally above the Scottish average for the same period.

It means that more than 100 patients who presented themselves at the BGH were not seen within the target time.

A health board spokesperson admitted that, in common with all health authorities in Scotland, the BGH had been “under tremendous pressure over the festive period and continues to be very busy”.

The spokesperson issued a plea to the Borders public.

He said: “999 and A&E services should only be used for serious illnesses and injuries so that essential treatment is available to those who need it most.

“In order to ensure we can provide the best care for patients, we are asking people who feel they need medical advice or treatment to carefully consider which service is best for their illness or injury, because going to the emergency department may not be the best course of action.

“For example, see your pharmacist if you are suffering from diarrhoea, headaches and painful coughs. Make an appointment with your GP if you are experiencing persistent back or ear pain and go to your nearest minor injury unit for treatment for cuts or sprains.”

These units are based at the community hospitals in Kelso, Peebles, Hawick and Duns, and operate a nurse-led 24-hour service.

Statistics of those attending the emergency department in the last three months of 2014, along with target achievement, will be published on February 3.

With a review of all clinical services in the region under way, the Scottish Government announced this week that NHS Borders will receive an extra £737,000 in the next financial year – its share of an additional £65million which is being distributed across Scotland’s 14 health boards.

It means that Holyrood funding for NHS Borders will be “uplifted” by £4.4million in 2015/16.

Making the announcement, health secretary Shona Robison highlighted the challenges of increased patient numbers, spiralling drug costs and complex illnesses.

“The additional investment to the resources available to NHS Borders will help alleviate these pressures,” she added.