Staffordshire NHS chiefs: Stay Away from A&E
People are being told to stay away from two A&Es due to high levels of demand, with warnings the situation 'is only going to get worse'.
University Hospitals of North Midlands NHS Trust (UHNM) has asked people only to attend both Stafford and Stoke's A&E units if it is a genuine emergency - such as choking or severe blood loss.
It says its two hospital sites, County Hospital in Stafford and Royal Stoke up north, are 'experiencing the type of demand usually only seen in the middle of winter', meaning staff are 'exceptionally busy' and patients are left facing long waits.
It is yet more concern for the people of Stafford, who already have a downgraded A&E with no children's services and no 24-hour opening. It is also a familiar site for the hospital trust, which has been battling A&E struggles for a number of years.
Julian Porter, from the Support Stafford Hospital group, warned the situation was only going to get worse as winter draws closer.
He told the Express & Star: "They will be short of staff I think, Stafford has found it difficult to recruit after the downgrade.
"It is not like there is lots of accidents going on or old people are suffering because of a heatwave - it is just a normal summer. If we are having trouble now what is going to happen when we get to winter? Will we have people in corridors again? It is only going to get worse.
"When the new chief executive came in she said she was going to sort it all out. Well she has been there a long time now and A&E is obviously not sorted.
"It desperately needs rebuilding, they need to go back to square one and start again. Stafford is growing and the people need a proper A&E."
UHNM said in a statement on Thursday: "UHNM is appealing for support from the local community to reduce the extreme pressures on A&E services at both County Hospital, Stafford and Royal Stoke University Hospital.
"Currently both sites are experiencing the type of demand usually only see in the middle of winter, so people are experiencing long waits and our staff are exceptionally busy.
"Please only attend Accident & Emergency Departments for anything classed as an emergency including choking, chest pain, loss of consciousness, severe blood loss, broken bones, difficulty breathing, deep wounds or a suspected stroke.
"There are various alternatives NHS services to A&E available in the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire area, which may be able to treat your condition more appropriately."
The trust is advising people to use pharmacies, GPs, walk-in centres and the NHS 111 number as an alternative to attending A&E.