Sheffield hospital bosses’ plea to patients as winter pressures bite

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News: Sheffield Telegraph online 24-hours a day.

Emergency departments at Sheffield’s hospitals are feeling the strain as the pressures of winter bite across the NHS - with bosses reporting ‘exceptional numbers’ of patients visiting A&E.

Sheffield Children’s Hospital A&E department was 36 per cent busier than normal earlier this month and has already recorded its ‘busiest-ever day’.

And in a single weekend earlier this month, more than 1,000 patients attended the Northern General Hospital’s emergency unit.

Patients with ‘non-life threatening illnesses or injuries’ have been warned to expect longer waits at A&E as the sickest patients are prioritised during busy periods.

Chiefs said some of the patients who have come into A&E over the past few weeks did not need urgent care and should have sought treatment elsewhere.

Professor Derek Burke, medical director at Sheffield Children’s Hospital, said: “Our staff have been incredible, showing real dedication and compassion despite the large number of children coming through our doors.

“Families can help by considering the alternatives. Something as simple as going to speak to your pharmacist can help relieve pressure on our emergency services.”

Kirsten Major, director of strategy and operations at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Our staff are doing an amazing job in coping with the increase in demand.

“But it is important that our staff concentrate all their efforts on treating the sickest patients and so we are asking the public to support us to do this over the busy winter months by thinking twice about whether they really need to come to A&E.”

People with more minor conditions are being encouraged to attend the NHS Walk-in Centre on Broad Lane or the Minor Injuries Unit at the Royal Hallamshire.

More than 13,000 people visited the Northern General Hospital’s accident and emergency unit in Fir Vale in October – 400 more than at the same time last year.

The children’s hospital’s busiest-ever day fell on December 14, a Sunday - the same weekend the Northern General saw 1,000 patients.