A quarter of patients who attended accident and emergency departments in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough during 2014/15 could have cared for themselves or used alternative services, according to new figures.
The Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Clinical Commissioning Group said that people arriving at A&E unnecessarily cost the NHS in the county more than £4 million – the equivalent cost of 677 hip replacements, or 287 liver transplants or 115 more dementia nurses.
Now, with the school holidays under way, officials are expecting a rise in demand at A&E and are urging the general public to ensure they only use A&E for emergencies, to help keep the service available for those who really need it.
Dr Neil Modha, GP and chief clinical officer, Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Clinical Commissioning Group said: “A&E departments are often seen as the first place to go, when in fact there are other NHS services that may be more suitable, such as your local pharmacy, walk in centre or GP.
“With each visit to A&E costing the NHS a minimum of £87, it’s crucial that people choose the right health service for their illness or injury.
“If you need medical help fast, but are unsure where to go, then call NHS 111. Available 24-7, 365 days a year, NHS 111 is a fast and easy way to direct you to the right service.”
Dr Modha also explained that a greater numbers of beds occupied by patients admitted in the accident and emergency department mean there are fewer beds available for planned operations.
In the 12 months from April 2014 to March 2015 more than 500 residents living in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough had their planned operations and procedures cancelled and rearranged because their hospital bed was no longer available.
Around a further 200 operations and procedures were postponed for the same reason for people living outside the area but due to have their operation in a Cambridgeshire hospital.