Think twice before attending our busy Emergency Department

Posted on: Wednesday 7 Dec 2016

Staff at Harrogate District Hospital are urging people to only attend the Emergency Department (A&E) in the case of a genuine accident or emergency.

The department – in common with many hospitals across the country – has been particularly busy in recent weeks and those people who don’t require accident or emergency services should consider other options first, such as calling NHS 111 or visiting their pharmacist.

Over the past fortnight the hospital has seen an increase in the number of acutely unwell patients, which means the Emergency Department has been extremely busy and admissions to hospital – where people have needed inpatient care – have increased.

While the hospital and the wider Trust (services in the community) is coping with the pressure, it has meant that extra beds have been opened to care for patients and waiting times in the Emergency Department have increased.

Dr Matt Shepherd, Lead Consultant for the Emergency Department, said: “Harrogate, like much of the country, has experienced a surge in patients coming to the Emergency Department. Many of the patients we are seeing are very poorly and are needing admission to hospital. Despite opening extra beds and increasing staffing this is leading to longer waits than we would like both in the Emergency Department and then for beds in the hospital.

“Unnecessary attendances at the Emergency Department mean longer waits for those patients who really do need care, as well as extra pressure on our staff throughout the Trust. Colleagues are working very hard to cope with the demand but we need local people to help by only coming to the department when really necessary.”

“To help us deliver the best possible care to everyone, if you have an illness that is not severe, then consider visiting, calling NHS 111, contacting your own GP or seeing a local pharmacist for advice before choosing to come to the Emergency Department.

“We are one of the best performing Emergency Departments in the country but even we are struggling with demand at the moment.”

Options for local people include:

Self-care: minor symptoms (headaches, sore throats, stomach upsets, etc) can be treated with off-the-shelf medicines available from your local pharmacy, convenience store or supermarket.

Pharmacy: expert advice and treatment for minor symptoms and conditions. Some are open late and on weekends, no appointment necessary. Find pharmacies at

GP practice: For more significant illnesses and long term conditions, make an appointment with your GP. When your GP is closed, called NHS 111 to access urgent GP services.

Minor Injuries: Your GP might be able to treat minor injuries; call the practice to check. There is a Minor Injury Unit at Ripon Community Hospital, Firby Lane, Ripon, HG4 2PR. It’s open seven days a week, 8am-9pm.

NHS 111: Not sure which service you need? NHS 111 is a fast and easy way to get the right help, whatever the time. Call 111 when you need medical help fast but it’s not a 999 emergency. Calls are free from landlines and mobile phones.

Emergency Department or 999: For serious injuries and emergencies only. There is an Emergency Department at Harrogate District Hospital, Lancaster Park Road, Harrogate, HG2 7SX.


For further information please contact:

Paul Widdowfield, Communications and Marketing Manager, [email protected] and 01423 557470.