A hospital's first live tweet-a-thon has been branded a success.
Staff at Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton spent two days giving live updates of what was happening in its accident and emergency department.
It was part of a campaign to raise awareness about other NHS services available in the city and ease the pressure on the already busy hospital.
Throughout Monday, December 10 and Tuesday, December 11, the hospital tweeted various reasons why people were turning up, followed by details of the places where they could have got help elsewhere.
There were also examples of the contrast between actual emergencies and people arriving with minor problems.
The tweetathon took place just after the hospital had experienced a much busier than expected weekend.
Large numbers of patients were having to be admitted before enough could be discharged to make room for them, leading to a shortage of available beds.
Bosses were forced to cancel some operations as they worked to get things back on track.
It is believed many people turn up to A&E when they don’t need to because they are not aware of what else is available. Others turn up because they struggle to get an appointment to see their GP.
The hospital trust is working with doctors, NHS Sussex and other community and social services to make it easier for patients to access the services they need so they don’t end up visiting the hospital when they don’t need to.
A hospital spokesman said: “The aim of the campaign was to send out the message that A&E should only be used for emergencies and that there are other local healthcare services available for conditions that are not emergencies.
“We have received positive feedback from a number of people who followed the campaign and found it useful and enlightening.
“It is difficult to measure the impact the campaign has made in terms of numbers but we hope it has helped to educate some people of the other health services available to them.”
Alternatives to A&E include the walk-in health centre at Brighton station, pharmacists, GPs and NHS Direct on 0845 4647.
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