Accident and Emergency Doctors Give Festive Advice

As most thoughts turn to a white Christmas, emergency medics in NHS Lothian are urging people to take extra care this year.

Consultants are warning locals to stay safe, avoid too much alcohol and only access accident and emergency departments if their case is a genuine emergency.

The festive call comes as casualty departments in the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh (RIE) and St John’s Hospital in Livingston are inundated with patients who have suffered slips and falls during the cold snap.

Scores of revellers have also been treated for alcohol-related conditions and injuries after indulging in too much festive cheer during party nights and celebrations.

A total of 468 people were treated in NHS Lothian in one day last weekend with 342 patients at the RIE and another 126 in St John’s.

Dr Dave Caesar, Clinical Director for Emergency Medicine, NHS Lothian, said many of these cases could have been treated in the minor injuries clinic or by a GP.  

He said:

"We work around the clock to make sure that patients receive the best treatment as swiftly as possible.
“However, we would ask people to think twice before they turn up to the Emergency Departments and question whether their ailment really is an emergency. 
“It could be that they could receive the same treatment much more quickly in a minor injuries clinic or could have accessed advice from NHS 24 or from their pharmacist. 
“Patients are obviously treated in order of urgency, so if they are unfortunately waiting to be treated for something minor like a sprained ankle, they may wait much longer than someone who has arrived in an ambulance with life threatening injuries.
“We would also advise people to take extra care when they are out and about, dress for the weather and try to drink responsibly. No-one enjoys spending Christmas in the Emergency Department.”

Health advice can be accessed immediately from your pharmacist or over the phone by contacting NHS 24 on 08454 242424.

If you feel you need to see a doctor or a nurse but your local surgery is closed, you can also arrange an out-of-hours appointment by contacting NHS 24.