it IS to society’s credit that there is increased awareness about mental health issues, not least because of enlightening awareness campaigns and the willingness of younger members of the Royal family to highlight a condition which was taboo until recently.
Take further education colleges. Not only are they identifying students who might be suffering from this affliction, but they’re actively encouraging the individuals concerned to seek medical guidance from their local A&E hospital.
In many respects, this approach should be welcomed – early intervention can make a critical difference to a patient’s health and wellbeing. The problem is that hospital casualty departments are not supposed to be a ‘one stop shop’ for all medical ailments, hence why the Government was recently forced to relax the four-hour waiting time criteria.
With up to one in six hospitals likely to lose their A&E unit as the NHS looks to concentrate resources at regional centres of excellence, it will be even more important that patients are encouraged to make contact with the services that are most applicable to their specific health needs. Invariably, this means individuals seeking a consultation from their GP. The problem here is that there is invariably a long waiting list for non-urgent appointments. Until this changes, people will inevitably use casualty as a first resort.