At the weekend it was revealed that one patient attended the accident and emergency department at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital 483 times last year – an average of more than once a day.
She was the worst case, but every A&E department in the region reported people who attended dozens or, in some cases, hundreds of times.
It’s a fair assumption that these people do need help, but probably not at A&E.
However, they are the visible tip of an iceberg that is damaging the NHS. Too many people who should be at their GP’s surgery are heading to A&E instead.
Which is why it is sensible for health trusts to draft GPs into A&E, to relieve the pressure. This is what is happening at South Tyneside General Hospital, where the pressure is sky-high.
We hope it works. What would give it a better chance of working is if everyone thought a bit harder before heading for A&E.