Leeds hospitals A&E: Medical director's plea amid 'extremely high' patient numbers at Leeds General Infirmary and St James' Hospital emergency departments

Leeds hospital bosses say “extremely high” numbers of patients have been turning up at A&E departments over the past week, prompting repeated pleas for patients to think carefully about whether they need to be seen by specialist emergency teams.

They say there does not appear to be one particular reason for the rise in demand but it is clear that A&E is not the most appropriate service for everyone who has been turning up at Leeds General Infirmary and St James’ Hospital.

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A day in the life of an outpatient department at Leeds General Infirmary

Dr Stephen Bush, medical director for unplanned care at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, said the emergency departments at both hospitals had seen "extremely high" numbers of patients over the past week and this level of demand had continued yesterday.

Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust says its A&E departments at Leeds General Infirmary and St James' Hospital are experiencing very high demand. Picture: James Hardisty

"Although many of the people attending do require the urgent care provided by our emergency specialists, a number of people are attending with non-threatening, long-standing conditions and minor injuries," he said.

"By seeking alternative care for these types of conditions, you will be helping our highly-trained urgent care staff treat the sickest patients that only they can care for.”

By calling NHS 111, people can make an appointment to attend urgent treatment centres and minor injuries units in Leeds. This includes the Shakespeare Medical Centre in Burmantofts, St George’s Urgent Treatment Centre in Middleton and Wharfedale Urgent Treatment Centre in Otley.

The urgent treatment centres in Middleton and Otley can do x- rays, carry out urine tests and provide prescriptions for minor illnesses.

Dr Bush said the hospital trust was working closely with its partners in primary and secondary care to ensure patients are in the best place for the care they need.

He said: "If you’re not sure where to go for help visit the 111 website, and follow the prompts on-screen, which will point you to the right medical service for your needs. You can also call 111 from your phone when it’s urgent, but not a health emergency.

"This is also the number to call if you have a minor injury – such as a cut, sprain, burn or if you think you’ve broken a bone – as you’ll be able to get an appointment at an urgent treatment centre or minor injuries unit."

The trust has stressed that people turning up at A&E who do not need to be seen urgently and could have used more appropriate NHS services elsewhere may wait a long time before being seen.

Medical help can be found on the NHS 111 website and details of local pharmacies and walk-in centres are available here.

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