Colchester Hospital advises against non-serious A&E visits

An NHS group has urged non-emergency patients to avoid a hospital's A&E as it copes with a rise in admissions.

The North East Essex Clinical Commissioning Group (NEECCG) said Colchester Hospital was under "severe pressure", with staff dealing with a 20% rise in admissions this month.

Hospital spokesman Mark Prentice said people who did not have an emergency should always consider alternatives.

People with non-serious illnesses were advised to see their local GP.

Dr Shane Gordon, leader of NEECCG, said: "Doctors, nurses, ambulance paramedics and all staff at Colchester Hospital are working flat-out, so please help us all keep the system working properly for those in serious and urgent need."

He said people should also avoid calling for an ambulance unless it was an emergency.

Mr Prentice said: "We are extremely busy, but that's not unusual for a cold day in February.

"If people have a genuine clinical need to come to A&E, they should not have any qualms about coming here."

An NEECCG spokesman said the rise in admissions was not down to one particular illness.

Two weeks ago the hospital came under fire from health minister and doctor Dan Poulter over its high death rates, and it is being investigated in the wake of the public inquiry into failings at Stafford Hospital.

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