Public urged to use NHS services wisely as south west London saddles up for Jubilee and Derby weekend
Please do not visit A&E unless it is an emergency – that’s the message from St George’s, Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals and Health Group as it gears up for a very busy bank holiday of Jubilee celebrations and one of the world’s biggest horse-racing festivals.
While many people will be deservedly enjoying a longer break, NHS staff will be working hard to care for those in need across the Group’s sites and in the dedicated Epsom Derby field hospital.
More than 100,000 people are expected to be in Epsom for the Oaks and the Derby over Friday and Saturday, with Epsom and St Helier medical and nursing staff joining St John Ambulance and South East Coast Ambulance Service to treat people at a field hospital near the racecourse.
In previous years staff have treated about 150 people over the two days at this pop-up, freeing up space in the nearby hospitals for other patients.
Meanwhile, additional staff will be on hand in both Epsom and St Helier emergency departments, and the Trust will have designated discharge consultants and junior doctors to ensure appropriate patients can be discharged quickly.
In addition, the Surgical Ambulatory Care Unit (SACU) will remain open over the bank holiday to provide same-day emergency care.
Both Trusts advise those marking the Jubilee or going to the Epsom Derby to have fun but to enjoy the celebrations sensibly.
Dr Ruth Charlton, Chief Medical Officer at Epsom and St Helier, said:
“We’re here for people who are in genuine need, but would ask you to consider first if our emergency departments are the best place for you to be.
“If you are celebrating this weekend, whether for the Jubilee or at the races, have a wonderful time – but please ensure you do so responsibly. Don’t dampen your bank holiday weekend by ending up in A&E.”
Dr Luci Etheridge, Chief Medical Officer at St George’s, said:
“As the weather picks up, we often see young children and adults alike attending our emergency department with allergic symptoms. If you or your child has asthma, hayfever or other allergic conditions please make sure you have adequate supplies of medication and take preventer treatments regularly and have rescue treatments on hand. For children with food allergies, be careful at events like street parties where foods may not be clearly labelled. And, should the sun shine on us as we celebrate outside, don’t forget to protect your skin with SPF too!”
St George’s Hospital also have additional staff in their Emergency Department and dedicated discharge support teams working over the bank holiday weekend with social care and community health partners. Their Surgical Assessment Unit (Nye Bevan) and Acute Medical Unit continue to run 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
If you need medical help this weekend and it is not an emergency, visit: 111.nhs.uk first for advice on which part of the NHS can best provide support. Often you will be seen more quickly in other healthcare environments. The Group is also reminding parents and guardians not to attend hospitals if their children are experiencing diarrhoea and vomiting, but to instead contact NHS 111 first for guidance.
This weekend, many pharmacies will be open for longer and can give advice on many minor medical problems. GPs will also have additional out-of-hours appointments – local people needing GPs should call their surgeries first. If not connected to your surgery, you should be connected to your local out of hours GP service.
For example, in Merton and Wandsworth, GPs are offering telephone, videocall and some face to face appointments where necessary to patients with urgent health needs. These include at evenings and weekends, between 8am – 8pm.
GP practices will let their patients know how to access this urgent medical help, contact information is available on practices websites.
In Surrey, some practices will be offering pre-booked appointments and there will also be appointments available through NHS 111. People can also visit their GP practice website for a range of online services.
A 24/7 crisis line at South West London St George’s – 0800 028 8000 – is available if you need urgent mental health care.
You can also help NHS staff this weekend by ensuring you request and collect your next prescription in plenty of time, if you take regular medication.