NHS staff are urging people to call 111 if their condition is less serious as they continue to see a surge in admissions.
After a busy week, the start of the half term holidays has seen more people Royal Cornwall Hospital and NHS staff are asking residents and holidaymakers for their support.
Using the 111 First service will mean that if someone does need to go to a minor injury unit or the emergency department, the teams there will know they are coming and can manage the way people come into the departments.
A hospital spokesperson said: “Our emergency department team needs to concentrate on those with serious and life-threatening conditions, so we’re asking anyone with less urgent need to use 111 first, so that we can direct them to the nearest, quickest and most appropriate service.
“We need to keep people safe and avoid overcrowding in our waiting rooms to minimise the risk of spreading the coronavirus. Going online at www.111.nhs.uk or calling 111 will really help us make sure everyone gets the care they need.
“We’d also ask relatives and carers coming to collect a patient who is ready to go home, to come as early as possible so we can free up space for others needing emergency care.”
This comes after a busy week at Royal Cornwall Hospital, after a spike in emergency admissions ahead of half-term.
NHS staff asked local people and holidaymakers to use alternative services if they need urgent but not emergency care.
The appeal from Royal Cornwall Hospital is not “related to coronavirus” but is simply due to an increase in patients – many of whom require a longer stay in hospital.
“The rise in admissions isn’t related to coronavirus or holidaymakers,” explained emergency department consultant Dr Toby Slade.
“But we are seeing more poorly people, particularly elderly patients, who need our care. Many are also needing to stay longer in hospital which ultimately means more pressure on our emergency department and longer waits to be seen.
“With more people likely to be heading to the county over the next few days, we want to remind residents and those coming to stay to first call their own GP, even if they are here on holiday, when they need care for something that’s urgent by not serious or life-threatening.
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“If it’s outside of GP surgery hours, they should go online – www.111.nhs.uk – or call 111 for advice on the best place for their care.
“The capacity in our waiting rooms is much less due to social distancing guidance,” added Dr Slade. “So by using your GP or the 111 First service people can help us to keep everyone safe and reduce the risk of spreading coronavirus.
“We’re doing really well in Cornwall to keep levels of the virus low and need the continued support of patients by using the right services and not coming to our emergency department unless they really need to.”