Health bosses make appeal as Princess Alexandra Hospital and other NHS services under “major pressure”

Health / Wed 7th Feb 2024 at 12:56pm

HEALTH services across Hertfordshire and west Essex are currently experiencing major pressures.  Accident and Emergency departments at Princess Alexandra Hospital in Harlow, Lister Hospital in Stevenage and Watford General, the ambulance service, our GP practices and community health services are all being stretched by the number of people calling on them for help.  


The situation is so serious that health bosses and the most senior doctors and nurses in Hertfordshire have united to deliver a hard-hitting message to the public:

Dr Jane Halpin, Chief Executive of the Hertfordshire and West Essex Integrated Care Board, said: “The Accident and Emergency departments at our hospitals only have the capacity to treat people who have serious, life-threatening or dangerous conditions.  Ambulances should only be called in genuine emergencies.  If you use emergency services incorrectly you are risking the lives of others and won’t get the best treatment for your illness.      

“If you come to A&E with a minor condition or illness, your care will not be a priority and you will face an extremely long wait. You may be sent away to visit a GP or pharmacist.  If you call 999 for an ambulance and you don’t need one, you could endanger the life of another person in desperate need of emergency care.

“Please do not come to hospital as a patient or a visitor if you have a common winter illness, such as a chest infection, cough and cold, diarrhoea or vomiting. Spreading your minor illness to people who are seriously ill can close hospital wards and won’t get you the help you need.  

“Our services are under extreme pressure, which is why it’s vital that everyone understands the urgency of the situation and what they can do to ensure that we protect essential health services for when we really need them.”    

There are a number of ways to get health advice and care if you, a family member or a friend feel ill:

  • Visit the NHS website – for advice and information on how to look after yourself and your family. It covers thousands of illnesses and conditions:  www.nhs.uk
  • Visit a pharmacy – for expert advice and low-cost medicines to ease your symptoms and help treat your condition. Every area has a late opening pharmacy and most have consulting rooms where you can ask for advice in private.
    You can now be assessed and treated by a community pharmacist for seven minor illnesses, including sore throat, sinusitis, ear infection and UTIs, without needing to see a GP. Lots of pharmacies are taking part in the scheme so just ask at your local one if you have these symptoms.
    Go to www.nhs.uk to find your nearest open pharmacist.
  • Contact your GP practice – GP practices have a range of staff to assess and treat you. Visit your practice website or call them to get help.
  • Visit www.111.nhs.uk or call 111 – for free, round the clock help when your GP is closed, when it’s an urgent but not a life-threatening 999 situation, or if you are unsure where to go to get the right help for your medical condition. They can advise you on the help you need and even book you an appointment with a doctor when your own GP is closed.  NHS 111 can also advise on late-opening pharmacies, minor injuries units, mental health help or urgent care centre services.  The online service or the adviser on the phone will direct you to the nearest suitable service to where you are.
  • Mental health help – if you are in a mental health crisis call NHS 111 and select option 2.

You can also get information on local health services by following local NHS organisations on social media.

             Hertfordshire and West Essex ICB @HWEICB

West Herts Hospitals @westhertsnhs

Hertfordshire Community NHS Trust @hctnhs

Hertfordshire Partnership Foundation Trust @hpft_nhs

Princess Alexandra Hospitals NHS Trust @NHSHarlow

Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust @eputnhs

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9 Comments for Health bosses make appeal as Princess Alexandra Hospital and other NHS services under “major pressure”:

2024-02-07 14:32:41

Most of the people attending A&E are as a result of not being able to see their doctor! Try getting a doctors appointment its a complete joke! On top of that we have record immigration that has taken its toll on surgeries up and down the country!

2024-02-07 15:40:14

Something to think about before the General Election. 16 Ambulances outside Princess Alexandra Hospital yesterday. And this has become an everyday issue. 14 years of underfunding and the Governments desire for further privatisation of the NHS has left our NHS in a dire state. The number of staff vacancies in the last few years has increased leading to more pressure. The reduction in the number of GPs is also relevant as it is so much harder to get a GP appointment, meaning more people go to A&E. There have also been cuts in the Care sector so there are less spaces in care homes meaning many elderly patients have to stay in hospital longer then they should. The Government will say that they are funding the NHS properly, but the facts and evidence do not support that. They will also blame NHS strikes and COVID, but this is just a smokescreen. I was in A&E in December 2019 before COVID and there were 13 ambulances queuing then. These problems have been going on for sometime and the Government have got to take full responsibility for this. Cuts have consequences.

Guy Flegman
2024-02-07 16:55:47

They have probably all gone to Las Vegas for some sort of conference on how to cut frontline services to preserve manager positions without the public noticing

2024-02-07 19:47:42

Lockdowns, in ability to see a GP as they hide away still, Strikes by greedy Drs and nurses (after we protected the NHS, at vast cost both economic and health) Trips to Vegas, and other frivolous spending. The NHS is a shambles, which is more focused on its needs than those who need and pay for it. Lets just admit it is a failure and more likely to harm you than cure you, abolish it and reform along German or French model. But then the Dr's (outside of Jnr Dr's who work many hours) might actually have to work hard and there might be less time on the golf course or part time working like most GPs seem to do.

2024-02-07 21:14:12

People really should use their brains to help themselves too. On a recent trip to A&E with an elderly relative who had a nasty fall, we saw all sorts of people in there. One had a bad back for a week, one had a cough (who did not cover her mouth), one had a sore leg. None of these are emergencies and can be solved with over the counter meds, a chat to a parmacist and lots of rest. Do not even need to see a doctor! Some people have lost the ability to help themselves, it is madness.

2024-02-07 21:42:58

The NHS doesn't have a funding crisis, what it does have is a management crisis, it wastes money of so many levels of management, pointless diversity roles, rainbow bridges, training courses in far off lands, What the NHS needs is a large dose of private sector medicine to show it how to do things correctly.

2024-02-08 07:32:10

With respect 'health bosses and senior doctors' instead of blaming your customers (through ni contributions who are paying for a service) direct your concerns to planning and district authorities to ensure all the hundreds of new homes provide their requirements under section 106 a legal requirement that is enforceable and not paid off like most developers do. Gilsten development, the new Bishop's Stortford consortium development, the hundreds of new homes in Takely to name but a few large developments. PAH has also recognised it is under capacity through the decade promise of a new hospital which is still yet to materialise. People going to a&e are desperate irrespective on what the professional view of how minor their issue is. I'm surprised 111 hasn't been given an AI makeover to make service even worse and less human. I strongly believe these health bosses think people are burdens to their job....

Dawn Hambling
2024-02-08 07:38:31

Try getting a doctors appointment, it’s an absolute joke. Especially when they suspend the online appointment system. Just what are these GP surgery’s doing. This is why everyone goes to A&E

2024-02-08 10:42:01

This is because GPs aren't seeing patients. What a joke they are. I was in a queue for 35 minutes on Friday trying to make an appointment. When I finally got through, I was told this needs to be made on line even though their automated message says to call the surgery if anyone is unable to use the Internet. I asked if the receptionist could just book me an appointment, but was told no and would have to try again on Monday or call 111. On Tuesday, I went in person asking exactly how to book an online appointment. The receptionist was helpful, but, of course, the system wasn't working as all appointments for that day had gone. At 8am yesterday, I managed to complete an on line request and submitted it. More than 24 hours later, no-one has contacted me and so I still don't have an appointment.

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