Think first before going to A&E

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DOCTORS at West Suffolk Hospital are urging patients to visit the right place for medical help to ensure A&E remains free for those most in need.

The call comes after the number of people using the emergency department at the Bury St Edmunds hospital rose by five per cent, from an average of 950 a week last year to more than 1,000 in 2011.

With this in mind, the hospital has joined forces with the East of England Ambulance Service, which has seen calls rise by over five per cent in the last four weeks.

Both are reminding people to call NHS Direct on 0845 4647 for minor illnesses and injuries. Alternatively, GP surgeries and pharmacies can be contacted for expert advice.

Dr Jon Cardy, clinical director of A&E services at West Suffolk Hospital, said: “Choosing the right NHS service will not only help ease the pressure on A&E staff but may also mean you get treated more quickly.

“A&E is for life-threatening and emergency conditions, such as heart attacks, strokes, breathing problems and serious accidents.

“We need to make sure that A&E services are free to help the people who really need them, so we are asking people to think carefully about whether A&E is really the best place for their condition.”