Sheffield hospitals’ cold weather plea

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Patients visiting hospital in Sheffield with respiratory illnesses are draining resources, health bosses have warned.

The Northern General Hospital’s accident and emergency department has witnessed a surge in the number of people attending to be treated for conditions such as coughs and flu in recent weeks.

And with cold weather setting in, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is appealing to residents to find the appropriate place to get care to ensure medics can focus on the real emergencies.

Chris Morley, deputy chief nurse at the trust, said: “A&E is designed for emergency care, but if your illness or injury is not an emergency there are more appropriate places to get advice and care such as local pharmacies, the walk-in centre, the minor injuries unit at the Hallamshire Hospital or your GP.

“If it’s an emergency, A& E is the right place, but we also get some people turning up with minor conditions, coughs, colds, the flu or other viral infections which can then put other patients and our staff at risk of infection.”

Public health officials have used thrown their weight behind the appeal and are reminding people to protect themselves with the flu jab.

Dr Richard Oliver, joint clinical director at NHS Sheffield Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “For most healthy people not in at risk groups, flu remains a mild illness and generally they will recover in a few days after getting lots of rest, drinking plenty of water and using over-the-counter remedies such as paracetamol.

“Free flu vaccinations are available from GPs for people over 65, pregnant women, or people with conditions such as diabetes, heart or chest complaints, liver or kidney disease.

“If you are in one of these groups and haven’t yet had the flu jab then please contact your GP for advice.

“Flu vaccines are also available from some community pharmacies free of charge to people in the at risk groups.

“A number of pharmacies will also provide vaccines to non-risk groups but at a fee.”