Margaret Watt: It is vital we know where to get help

Every minute counts when a patient is trying to access emergency care, and it is important that people know who to turn to for help and when.

We believe there should be a lot more education, communication and dialogue with the patients about where they should go for help, be that an A&E department or a minor injuries unit.

It is vital that people get the right level of care that suits their needs. A lot of people do not have a clue what they are supposed to do and where they should go.

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It is incumbent on the health boards and the Scottish Government to make sure that patients have the correct information to gear them up where they go when they are ill or think they are ill.

This is a big problem.

Without communication with patients, everything will just collapse.

We also have to remember that we need to communicate with people in ways they can understand.

Some may not have as good literacy levels as others, and we need to take into account what we tell them about the health services they require just as much as anyone else.

There should be more leaflets sent out with information which says if you are feeling ill, this is what you do and where you should go.

They have to do this because services are changing so quickly and people can't keep up with that.

Many people do not know what different treatments they can get at minor injuries units or A&E.

A lot of effort and money could be saved by giving them the education they need.

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Patients want to be able to access the right services and not put undue pressure on A&E units.

But they also want to receive the best care possible for their particular needs, and that must be provided to them.

• Margaret Watt is chair of the Scotland Patients Association