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Southend Hospital emergency department on black alert

29 December 2014

Health Care

Southend University Hospital is currently on black alert due to a higher than usual number of acutely ill patients requiring a hospital bed.

To assist us in dealing with the situation, we would like to remind members of the public to only visit the accident and emergency department if they are seriously unwell or critically injured.  Choking, chest pain, blacking out, blood loss and fractures are all considered emergencies, and those with symptoms like this should not hesitate to visit their local A&E department. 

Sue Hardy, acting chief executive at Southend University Hospital, said: "The health system in Essex is under significant pressure today with lots of illness in the community. The emergency department is extremely busy and patients are being warned that those attending with 'non-urgent' conditions will wait much longer than usual as patients are prioritised according to how unwell they are. 

"We would like to remind anyone who is unsure of the best course of action to always ring NHS 111 for health advice 24 hours a day, seven days a week." 

If you need more than telephone advice when your GP is closed, then you can avoid several hours' wait in the emergency department by telephoning NHS 111 for an appointment with your GP's out-of-hours service which runs from 6.30pm until 8.00am Monday to Friday and all day at weekends and Bank Holidays. 

In many instances, pharmacies are a good choice.  Pharmacists can help give advice and over-the-counter remedies for diarrhoea, minor infections, headaches, coughs and colds, as well as selling bandages and supports for minor twists and sprains. 

There is also St Luke's Walk in Centre, Pantile Avenue, which is open at weekends and Bank Holidays from 8.00am to 8.00pm.  The walk-in service offers treatment, information and advice for a range of minor illnesses and injuries including: 

  • cuts and grazes
  • coughs, colds and flu-like symptoms
  • stomach upsets
  • minor scalds and burns
  • strains and sprains
  • minor ear, throat, skin and eye conditions. 

Southend Medical Centre, 50-52 London Road, Southend are providing extended access to care to all Southend residents over the weekend period, on Saturday from 8.00am - 1.00pm and Sunday from 1.00pm - 6.00pm.  Patients can walk-in during these times. 

Dr Roger Gardiner, lead clinician for NHS 111 and out of hours services in south Essex, said: "NHS 111 is available around the clock if you need urgent medical help that is not an emergency. You will speak to highly trained call handlers, supported by experienced nurses or paramedics who will clinically assess you, provide appropriate advice or refer you to the most appropriate NHS service."