BBC South and BBC Radio Berkshire broadcast a story today looking at 'left without treatment' figures for Accident and Emergency Departments in Berkshire. The broadcasts indicated that significant sums are wasted by patients visiting Accident and Emergency departments unnecessarily, and asked whether NHS services are too complex to navigate.
We agree that it is in everyone's interest to use NHS services responsibly. But we think that this story is really about keeping A&E departments free for acutely unwell patients who genuinely need the services of A&E.
We're keen that patients properly understand the data which led to the BBC reports today, and that everyone knows who to turn to when feeling unwell.
The data behind the story
- In 2013/14 around 12,600 patients registered with a doctor in Berkshire West visited A&E departments in England and did not require treatment.
- Such visits cost a combined total of £816,482 with an average individual cost of around £65. This total includes attendance at A&E departments in other areas of the country.
The full picture
- 'Patients who left without treatment' figures also include those patients who received diagnostics such as an x-ray for a suspected fracture. In such instances their choice to attend the A&E department could well have been the right thing to do.
- Patients appropriately accessing alternate care from minor injuries clinic or urgent care centres help to keep the A&E departments free for those who need them most. They are also likely to be seen and treated quicker than if they were to attend A&E during a busy period.
It's easy to find out which NHS service you need to use
- Other than for genuine emergencies, patients should call NHS 111 for the best help and advice for which NHS service to turn to. NHS 111 is a free telephone service available 24 hours a day, every day of the week. NHS 111 holds full details of all local health services, operating hours, which conditions can be treated where and how to get there.
- NHS Choices online lists all NHS services by postcode. A smartphone app is also available in English and Polish.
Further information and links:
- NHS Choices on the NHS 111 service
- Local NHS services in your area
- My Local NHS app in English
- My Local NHS app in Polish