HOSPITAL chiefs have urged people to think twice about attending the emergency department.

The plea follows a “busy” few days for the Great Western Hospital, leaving people waiting in the ED.

The Marlborough Road hospital’s top doctor also asked family and friends to help nurses and doctors by ensuring that patients are able to return home once they’re well enough to be discharged.

Dr Guy Rooney, medical director at the Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “The last few days have been particularly busy for us, which has meant some less urgent patients attending the Emergency Department have had to wait longer than usual.

“Many people automatically turn to the hospital if they feel they cannot get a quick appointment elsewhere, but we’d ask they take a few minutes to think about whether that really is the best option for them.

“Choosing the right option first time not only allows us to focus our attention on the people who need care the most, but also improves a patient’s chance of being seen quicker.”

He said that the NHS 111 non-emergency hotline can help direct people to the best treatment, including the GP out-of-hours service.

Gill May, executive nurse at Swindon Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “NHS services always come under increased pressure in winter especially when we see a rise in respiratory illnesses at this time of year, but as ever our hard-working NHS staff are pulling out all the stops to provide care for patients.

“We have strong systems in place which closely monitor rising demands and NHS providers work closely together to ensure they are managed properly. The NHS belongs to all of us, and everyone has a part to play in helping the NHS manage these pressures.

“If you are normally fit and well, you can help our doctors, nurses and paramedics by thinking carefully about alternative NHS services before calling 999 or going to ED. That could include using the Walk-in Centre, the Urgent Care Centre, visiting pharmacists, who are expert in advising on common winter illnesses, or seeing your GP.”

In October, GWH missed its emergency department targets – with 88.1 per cent of patients treated or admitted to hospital within three months. The target is 95 per cent.

The last time GWH hit the target was in July 2015 - the same month the target was last met nationally.