ONLY people with with life threatening conditions and those with injuries should attend an Emergency Department (ED).

That is the message being delivered by NHS Ayrshire and Arran after it emerged that the board’s EDs have the highest attendance rate in Scotland.

A campaign has been launched to encouraging people to think first before attending an ED, in order to provide the best care possible for the seriously injured or critically ill.

Many residents are unaware where they should go when they feel they need to access healthcare and may end up in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Having more people than anywhere else going to an ED highlights the issue, rather than Ayrshire and Arran having the poorest health or involved in more accidents.

An ED may not always be the best place to treat certain conditions and often results in prolonged waiting times for those in desperate need of specialist treatment.

Dr Crawford McGuffie, associate medical director, said: “Increased attendances and long waiting times lead to added pressure on staff and the wider hospital system, but most importantly can delay care for the people who really need it.

“Our campaign is part of a larger programme, 4Rs which aims to make sure that the RIGHT patient is seen at the RIGHT place at the RIGHT time with the RIGHT clinician.

“Our key message is to let people know when is the most appropriate time to visit an ED, and what are the available alternatives.”

Part of the campaign focusses on what an ED does not do — treat conditions usually seen and better managed by a GP; treat conditions previously seen by a GP; provide second opinions; speed up other tests and investigations; treat worsening symptoms after a procedure; or deal with chronic conditions.

Staff will try and redirect patients to a more appropriate service, such as NHS24, pharmacy, emergency dental service, pregnancy services and sexual health services.

Helping launch the campaign at Crosshouse Hospital were deputy charge nurse David Thomson, clinical director of emergency medicine Dr Morten Draegebo and staff nurse Marianna Paterson.