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Health Board urges people to consider alternatives to A&E if possible

Photo credit: Matthew Horwood

New figures show that emergency departments within Cardiff and Vale University Health Board remain under huge pressure.  Katja Empson, a consultant at the Emergency Unit and one of the leads for CAV 24/7, reiterates the ‘Help Us, Help You’ message this New Year, by reminding people to call the new CAV 24/7 number ahead of visiting the emergency unit.

Anyone who feels they need a visit to A&E, but does not have a life-threatening illness or injury, will be asked to call CAV 24/7 on 0300 10 20 247 where their details will be taken by a trained call handler.

They will then receive a call back from a clinician within 20 minutes for urgent needs, or an hour for less urgent needs, who will ‘triage’ the patient. CAV 24/7 does not replace 999 calls for life-threatening conditions.

A clinical review of patients accessing the Emergency Unit at University Hospital Wales, Cardiff was undertaken before introducing the CAV 24/7 ‘Phone First’ system. The review found that approximately 200 of the Unit’s daily attendances have a low acuity level, which means these patients could be safely managed as a planned event or seen in an alternative setting to the Emergency Unit. Typically, the Emergency Unit sees an average of 240 patients just ‘walk in’ to the Unit to be triaged.

Dr Empson strongly advises using CAV 24/7 for all but the most serious and life-threatening emergencies as this will safely allow people to be directed to the right place at the right time and ensure that the services at the Emergency Unit are available for those that need it most.

Katja said: “Emergency Units experience higher attendances every winter and our clinical teams need to be able to focus their work on those seriously ill with infections, heart attacks and strokes. The situation in the current pandemic is even more critical; so during this extremely difficult time I ask people to carefully consider where to get advice if they are concerned about minor illness, mild symptoms or long standing problems.


“Support is out there in a number of ways so please consider your pharmacy, dentist, optician or local GP before calling CAV 24/7. However, calling CAV 24/7 will mean that you are given support in those decisions if you are unsure and will also allow you to get seen at a Minor Injuries Unit instead of the Emergency Unit. You should not attend the Emergency Unit without contacting CAV 24/7 first.”

For more information on how best to access NHS services this winter, visit www.111.wales.nhs.uk. If you have Covid-19 symptoms no matter how mild, self-isolate and book a test.