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Huge spike in demand at Cornwall's biggest hospital

Huge spike in demand at Cornwall's biggest hospital

Published by Emma Carton at 8:05am 18th August 2018. (Updated at 8:53am 27th August 2018)

A&E at Cornwall's biggest hospital is so busy right now, doctors and nurses are pulling almost double shifts to cope.

Treliske is experiencing a massive summer surge in patients and is currently operating at its second highest alert level.

Health bosses say some are turning up with minor problems like broken bones, cuts, stings and even insect bites.

During an average day, around 170 people walk through the doors at casualty but right now, that figure is more like 260.

Emergency Consultant, Olga Zmijewska-Kaczor is urging to avoid A&E casualty unless it is an absolute emergency.

"It goes to the point that myself and my colleagues are doing extra hours to cope with the demand.

"To give you an example, I finished my shift at 2am in the morning on Friday and was back in again at 9am; that's how busy we are".

"If they get slightly confused or if it's late at night, they just come to the emergency department as the easiest address to get the help they need.

Although, unfortunately, it means we have less time and very divided attention that should be direct to our most sick patients".

Things to consider before calling 999

Emergency department: Please only use the emergency department if you have a genuine life-threatening emergency. This includes loss of consciousness; persistent, severe chest pain, difficulty breathing, severe bleeding that cannot be stopped; severe allergic reactions; severe burns or scalds and acute confused state and fits that don't stop. The emergency department is not the right place to treat sporting sprains and strains, minor fractures, broken bones, upset stomachs, insect bites and cuts, nor is it an alternative to a GP appointment. If your GP practice is closed you can call NHS 111, which will direct you to the best local service to treat your injury. 

999: Please only call the 999 ambulance service for life threatening and emergency conditions. If a family member is experiencing chest pain or has become unconscious telephone 999 immediately. 

Minor injury units: If your injury is less severe, you can get help from a minor injuries unit (MIU) or the West Cornwall Hospital urgent care centre in Penzance. Here you will be seen by an experienced nurse, without an appointment. X-ray is available at some locations.

  • Bodmin Community Hospital
  • Camborne Redruth Community Hospital
  • Falmouth Community Hospital
  • Launceston Community Hospital
  • Liskeard Community Hospital
  • Newquay Community Hospital
  • St Austell Community Hospital
  • St Mary’s Community Hospital
  • Stratton Community Hospital, Bude
  • West Cornwall Hospital, Penzance
  • Cumberland Centre, Plymouth
  • Tavistock Hospital, Tavistock

Click here for MIU opening times and contact details or download the free app to check current waiting times here.

Waiting times: If you do need to visit the emergency department, a minor injury unit or urgent care centre, you can see how long you may have to wait by using the online waiting time service, which shows the longest wait, how many people are waiting to be seen and how many people are in the department.

Pharmacists: Pharmacists are highly trained clinicians who can provide confidential expert advice and over-the-counter treatments for a wide range of common illnesses and complaints, such as stomach upsets, allergies, insect bites, minor cuts, sticky and red eyes, nappy rash, skin conditions and coughs and colds. They can also arrange an urgent prescription for a supply of any prescribed medicines that run out, so you don't have to use the out of hours' service or the emergency department. The emergency prescription service is also available for anyone who's on holiday or visiting family. You can also get details of which pharmacies are open at the weekend and evenings here or checking the NHS England website. 

NHS 111: Please call NHS 111 if you need urgent medical advice when your GP surgery is closed, or you're on holiday. Call handlers can tell you anything from where to find an emergency dentist to getting you and out-of-hour's doctor. They can also arrange for a clinician to call you back, if needed. 

Self-care: Having a few basic items in your bathroom medicine cabinet can save you time and effort should you become ill. Items like paracetamol, a bandage, sticking plasters, and antiseptic cream or indigestion tablets. If troublesome symptoms persist or worsen see your GP, call 111 if your surgery is closed, or talk to a pharmacist.

Not registered with a GP or on holiday in Cornwall? 

If you are not registered with a local GP practice, you should do so as soon as possible to ensure that you can receive medical treatment when you need it. Don’t wait until you are ill. It will mean that the GP has access to your medical records and will be able to make more informed decisions about how to treat you. You will need to be registered with a GP to get ongoing care, such as referral to hospital or access to other services in the practice. If you are on holiday in Cornwall, please call NHS 111 if you need to see a GP.

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