THE IMPACT of loneliness and isolation on older people at Christmas can cause a major increase in admissions to A&E, England’s top urgent care doctor has warned.
Professor Keith Willett, NHS England’s director for acute care, said studies showed people left on their own over the festive period were more likely to end up in hospital.
He urged anyone feeling unwell to get treatment early and visit a pharmacy for minor ailments or cold and flu remedies instead of going to hospital or their GP.
“Over Christmas we want to keep people out of busy A&E departments as far as possible,” Prof Willett said.
“So, we are calling on the public to think about those people living nearby who might benefit from a visit.
“If they see other people they are more likely to mention a health problem and then are more likely to seek help early.”
Professor Willett also said people should order medicines in plenty of time and make sure not to run out and anyone staying away from home with family or friends who forgets their medicines can get in touch with the local pharmacist who can issue you an emergency five-day supply.
“We often see a sharp spike in emergency admissions at this time of year and we know that the majority of these are elderly people who have stored up a health problem at home and haven’t sought treatment early hoping it will go away,” Prof Willett added.
“Our message this year is if you’re feeling under the weather don’t store it up – go and see the pharmacist, look at NHS Choices or call 111 for advice. Don’t end up in A&E please.”