Betsi Cadwaladr: A&E winter campaign targets young

Young people in north Wales are being targeted to relieve winter pressure on hospital accident and emergency (A&E) units.

The Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (BCUHB) says too many 15 to 29-year-olds go to A&E when they could be helped by GPs or pharmacists.

Paramedics and NHS staff will visit schools and colleges in the Choose Well campaign.

Overall A&E attendance rose 3.5% last year in Wales.

The increase in 2011/2012 saw 654,714 patients aged 16 to 64 attending A&E.

It comes after the health board was criticised last year for the way it dealt with ward closures to cope with extra demand over the winter.

According to BCUHB, Welsh government figures show only 27% of people who go to A&E departments are admitted as an emergency.

The health board says 1% of people were aware that treatment was available at a minor injuries unit, 15% were aware of services offered by NHS Direct and 6% knew a pharmacy offered health advice.

Dr Olwen Williams, of BCUHB, said winter was the health board's busiest time of year and there was a year-on-year increase in people using the service.

Between April 2011 and March 2012 there were more than 6,000 A&E attendances in north Wales "for conditions which may not need the services of an emergency department", the health board says.

Dr Williams added: "By using the right service people can help us help the people who really face life or death in our emergency departments and help our staff give them a fighting chance''.

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