Too many people are turning up instead of going to a minor injuries clinic, calling NHS24 or visiting their GP.
And that is putting the frontline service under strain, stretching waiting times for patients in need of immediate help, and impacting on social distancing.
NHS Fife bosses said today that the A&E unit at the region’s main hospital in Kirkcaldy was currently seeing more patients through its doors each day than it did prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.
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And numbers are exceeding even the traditionally busy winter period.
It urged people to think before going straight to the department if their injuries were not life threatening.
Dr Chris McKenna, NHS Fife’s Medical Director, added: “The A&E department at Victoria Hospital is busier than it has been for a very long time, both due to a rise in COVID-19 cases and people presenting with other illnesses and injuries.
“It’s vital that only those with life or limb saving emergencies attend A&E as this allows our clinical staff to devote more time to those people who need it most.
“If you need urgent medical attention and it’s not life-threatening, please NHS 24 on 111 where you will be assessed over the telephone and referred to the right healthcare professional for your needs.”He also appealed to people to be patient dcuring busy times in the department.
“Whilst I appreciate long waits are frustrating, our staff are working exceptionally hard during challenging circumstances and I would urge people to be mindful of this by showing not only patience – but also kindness and courtesy,” he added.
NHS Fife said a “significant number” of people turning up at A&E could have been treated at their nearest Minor Injuries Unit, local pharmacy or their GP.
It stressed people with life-threatening conditions including suspected heart attacks or strokes, severe breathing difficulties, severe bleeding, or severe injury should go straight to A&E or call 999.
Anyone who thinks they may need A&E where their condition is not life-threatening should call NHS 24 on 111.