A&E patients told: If it’s not an emergency, visit GP

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HEALTH chiefs are turning away non-emergency patients from A&E departments in a crackdown on the “worried well”.

Patients whose injuries or illnesses do not qualify as an emergency are instead being told to visit their GP.

NHS Fife will join NHS Lanarkshire and NHS Borders next month, in having health professionals assess patients when 
they first arrive, and then sending them home if their condition is not deemed serious enough.

The three health boards see more than 6,000 A&E patients, in total, each year.

John Winston, a health board member with NHS Fife, said: “If people turn up inappropriately, things they should be seeing their GP about, they’ll be sent away.

“I don’t blame NHS Fife, as some people are turning up with things that are just not A&E cases. It’s people who have complaints that aren’t serious in any way shape or form and they’re adding to the queues and waiting times.

“There’s a lot of inappropriate use where, at most, they should be going to the chemist or their own GP instead.”

NHS Dumfries and Galloway said it is in talks about “adopting a policy of this kind”.

However, Scotland’s two largest boards, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, and NHS Lothian, said they would continue to see every patient who turns up at their A&E department.

An NHS Lanarkshire spokesperson said: “Any patient who presents at the emergency department will undergo an assessment by a clinician.

“Following this assessment, a member of the clinical team will decide the best course of 
treatment.

“This could range from recommending treatment from another service, being treated within the emergency department or referring them on 
to the appropriate speciality if 
required.”

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