A nicely-healed cut with a scab on it, a sore throat, and toothache are just some of the conditions that have been seen at Hinchingbrooke Hospital’s accident and emergency departments in the past few months.

Officials at Hinchingbrooke Hospital are urging people to use the most appropriate NHS service.Officials at Hinchingbrooke Hospital are urging people to use the most appropriate NHS service.

Staff at Hinchingbrooke, in Huntingdon, have seen various injuries and conditions in the A&E department that could have been treated elsewhere within the NHS - by a GP or a pharmacy.

And, as winter approaches, NHS health chiefs are reminding residents to use the right NHS service for their problem.

According to the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Clinical Commission Group (CCG), which oversees the health service in the county, the top 10 worst offending minor conditions seen at A&E recently are; a five-day old wound with a scab; toothache; back pain for two months; a child with sore throat; conjunctivitis; people who have run out of their usual medication; constipation; bruises; sprains; and bites or stings.

Dr Gary Howsam, clinical chairman at the CCG, said: “There’s really no excuse for people going to the emergency department, somewhere designed to treat local people in an emergency or life-threatening situation, with such minor problems.

“Most of the problems could be treated at home with medicines that can be bought over the counter from a pharmacy. Pharmacists can give advice about how to treat minor illnesses and ailments.”

Dr Kanchan Rege, medical director at North West Anglia NHS Foundation Trust, said: “At this time of year and throughout the winter our emergency departments come under a lot of pressure as there are many more very sick patients.

“It’s better for everyone if people go straight to the right place for the care they need, in most cases that will be their local pharmacy to start with or their GP surgery. That way we can concentrate on the people who are badly injured or very poorly and save everyone else very long waits.

“If you are unsure about who you should seek help from, you can call NHS 111, which will direct callers to the appropriate service.”

There are also minor illness and injury units in Peterborough, Ely, Doddington, and Wisbech, which offer help with strains, sprains, burns or scalds, and other minor ailments.