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Public urged to use healthcare services wisely over Easter weekend

There is currently an unprecedented demand across the whole health and care system across North Wales.

This is due to a marked increase in cases of COVID-19 across the region, which is resulting in more patients with the virus in our hospitals, an increase in staff absence and the difficulty of discharging medically fit patients from hospital is leading to significant bed shortages. 

Relatives of loved ones across the hospitals who have been assessed as being well enough to go home, but who are waiting to be discharged with homecare and community health support, may be able to help them get home more quickly if they or their family are in a position to support them at home.

Gill Harris, Executive Director of Integrated Clinical Services said: “Spending as little time in hospital is better for patients and means that NHS beds can be freed up for others with urgent care needs. Supporting older patients to get home from hospital efficiently is an important part of their recovery and it also protects them from negative consequences of hospital admission, such as hospital acquired infection, falls and a loss of independence.

“If you feel you are able to facilitate hospital discharge for your loved one please speak to the ward manager or your social worker to explore this further.”

To help ease pressure on the emergency services over the busy weekend doctors, paramedics and nurses are urging people to choose the right service for their health needs.

Health Board staff and the Welsh Ambulance Services NHS Trust are reminding people to choose well when they need health advice or support – by using NHS 111 Wales or visiting a community pharmacy.

Dr Richard Griffiths, Consultant in Emergency Medicine at Ysbyty Gwynedd, said: “The best way the public can help our frontline staff, and ensure that they and their families can be seen quickly, is to use other health services within our community and reserve our Emergency Departments for serious or life threatening conditions.

“If you begin to feel unwell and it’s not an emergency you visit the NHS 111 Wales website for free health advice and information or visit your local pharmacy. For urgent concerns, people can contact our GP Out of Hours service by calling 111.”

Paramedic Dave Massey from Welsh Ambulance Service NHS Trust said: “Bank holidays are always a busy time for the ambulance service, especially the Easter weekend when typically more people will be socialising with friends and family, which can lead to more people becoming ill or injured.

“This puts our service under even more pressure than it already is, so we’re asking people to look after themselves and others and think carefully about whether an ambulance is most appropriate for their needs.

“There are a full range of options available to you, including the NHS 111 Wales website, which should be your first port of call for health advice and information.

“We want to ensure it’s a weekend that people will remember for the right reasons and, more importantly, that our ambulance crews are there for those who need them most, so please enjoy the Easter celebrations responsibly.”

NHS 111 Wales online should be the first point of call. For those with urgent concerns or needing emergency dental care; the 111 telephone service can provide guidance to help people choose the right health service to best meet their individual needs – and to ensure emergency services are there for those who need it the most. Further details can be found here

A local pharmacist can provide free, confidential advice, support and treatment on a range of common ailments and provide emergency medicine without needing to book an appointment. Opening times for pharmacies across North Wales over the Easter weekend can be found here

Minor Injury Units are located across North Wales and can treat injuries that are not critical or life threatening. They normally offer much shorter waiting times compared to other services that to prioritise the most seriously injured patients who need urgent care. Find your nearest Minor Injury Unit here

For further details visit: Local Health Services - Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (nhs.wales)