A surge in flu cases, coupled to patients calling on emergency departments with minor ailments, is placing a heavy burden on Gibraltar’s health services this winter, the Gibraltar Health Authority said.
The GHA said it is currently experiencing very high rates of attendance both at the Primary Care Centre and in the Accident & Emergency Department at St Bernard’s Hospital due to the rise in patients with winter related illnesses.
Reported cases of Influenza and flu-like illnesses have been extremely high in December and January to date, it said in a statement.
“There is no single type of flu that has dominated, but there appears to be a mixed pattern,” the GHA said.
“Although the numbers of patients has not reached epidemic levels, they can still cause bottlenecks on health services.”
“In this, the public can do much to help, by taking care of themselves and by actions to reduce the burden of illness on society.”
The GHA said part of the problem is the use of emergency services by individuals for minor ailments.
“Hospital Emergency departments are for serious conditions, but we are encountering patients with minor illnesses,” a spokesman for St Bernard’s hospital said.
“We are introducing a protocol whereby patients who come to the accident and emergency departments unnecessarily are re-directed to more appropriate services, freeing up time for doctors and nurses to see emergency cases.”
The GHA said it was doing its best “under the circumstances”, jointly with the Care Agency, to create the necessary resilience, and asked for help from the public.
The GHA Public Health department will be carrying out a campaign of educating the public on self-care and infection prevention.