‘A&E has never seen so much pressure’

Watford General Hospital's A&E
Watford General Hospital's A&E

Health workers across Hertfordshire are urging people to think twice about whether they need to go to A&E after immense pressure on emergency wards, including at Watford Hospital.

More than 240 people visited Dacorum’s nearest A&E on Monday.

The high turnout reflects growing stress on West Herts Hospitals, as staff have taken to social media to help ease the strain, by pointing would-be patients to other services such as NHS 111, GP surgeries and Hemel Hempstead’s 24/7 urgent care centre.

Dr Nicolas Small, Chairof Herts Valleys Clinical Commissioning Group said: “If you use emergency services incorrectly you are risking the lives of others and won’t get the best treatment.

“If you have a minor complaint or injury you should not come to A&E in Herts – your care will not be a priority and you may even be sent away.

“If you call 999 and your life is not at risk, you may be endangering the life of another person in desperate need of emergency care. We have never seen our hospitals under such pressure.”

Dr Small said among those arriving at Watford’s A&E were several people who thought they may have flu and toothache, and some women asking for the morning after pill or pregnancy tests, who would have been better off visiting a pharmacy or GP.