PATIENTS are being urged to avoid overcrowding at emergency rooms at Forth Valley Royal Hospital by thinking twice before attending with a minor illness or injury.

NHS Forth Valley is asking people to consider the alternatives available, and whether a visit to the Emergency Department is necessary, following an extremely busy period at the hospital.

Staff explained some patients attend the department with minor, non-urgent health issues instead of visiting the Minor Injuries Unit at Stirling Health and Care Village or seeking advice from local pharmacies, dentists, NHS Inform or their GP.

Medics have also developed a list of the top 10 health issues that do not require a trip the ED, including cold symptoms, earache, period pain, hay fever or dental pain.

Andy Longmate, clinical director for NHS Forth Valley's Emergency Department, said: "We want to ensure everyone gets the best care, however, the Emergency Department is not always the best place to provide this.

"Many people with less serious or non-urgent health problems could be seen quicker by a local pharmacist, their GP Practice or at the Minor Injuries Unit.

"Making better use of these other healthcare services allows staff to focus on treating patients with more serious or urgent problems."

The majority of patients who attend the Minor Injuries Unit (MIU) at Stirling Health and Care Village are treated within four hours. It is open from 9am to 9pm daily and treats adults and children over the age of one.

The MIU can treat cuts and grazes, minor burns, sprains and strains and can remove objects stuck in the ears or nose.

They cannot treat serious injuries or illnesses such as breath difficulties or allergic reactions.

Community pharmacists, who are often available in larger supermarkets during evenings and weekends, can provide treatment and advice on issues such as coughs and colds, fever, constipation, emergency contraception, stomach upsets, and skin problems.

Under a scheme called Pharmacy First, all pharmacists in Forth Valley can also provide free treatment for a range of common conditions without a GP prescription.

These include urine infections; conjunctivitis; skin conditions such as eczema, dermatitis and reactions to insect bites; skin infections like cellulitis and impetigo as well as thrush.

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