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HEALTH bosses claim ten per cent of all people using accident and emergency departments don’t need to be there.

The NHS in south Essex has called on people to think carefully before turning up at A&E with Basildon and Southend hospitals reporting increasing numbers of people each year.

Bosses warn attending A&E when it is not an emergency costs the NHS millions of pounds that could be spent on other services and care.

It also takes up doctors and nurses’ valuable time.

Dr Roger Gardiner, GP and lead clinician for the NHS 111 service in south Essex, said: “A&E should only be used in genuine emergency situations to ensure our local hospitals can treat those most in need.

“NHS 111 is available for people to call when they need medical help fast, but it’s not a 999 emergency.”

As well as the free 111 service, available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, there are other services people should consider like pharmacies, out of hours GP services or walk in centres.

St Luke’s Health Centre, in Pantile Avenue, Southend, and the Thurrock Health Centre High Street, Grays, are open seven days a week, from 8am to 8pm, including bank holidays.

Medics also urge anyone needing medical advice, an examination, or a prescription to contact thei local GP.

Dr Caroline Howard, clinical lead and consultant in emergency medicine at Southend Hospital, said: “We are aware that during winter months the number of serious and life-threatening cases will go up if temperatures fall below 12 degrees celsius.

“So what we don’t need at such a busy time is people calling 999 or attending A&E when they don’t really need to and they could have received more appropriate care using another more appropriate, NHS service.”

Dr Robert Ghosh, clinical director of acute medicine at Basildon Hospital, added: “A&E should not be used as a service of convenience or an alternative to making an appointment to see a GP.”