Published: 17/03/2005, Volume II5, No. 5947 Page 11

Doctors, nurses, dentists, pharmacists and managers will take to the streets of Sheffield next week to distribute pocket guides aiming to reduce pressure on accident and emergency departments over the four-day Easter break.

The Find Your Way On the Road to Recovery guides detail services available to patients who may consider hospital as their first choice once self-care has failed.

The initiative was the idea of South East Sheffield primary care trust, which enlisted the support of the city's three other PCTs after statistics from the Christmas period showed many patients turning to A&E rather than frontline community services.

South East Sheffield PCT chief executive Helen Fentimen said: 'The aim is to remind people what is available and to help them to choose the most appropriate service.' The guides and posters give details of pharmacists, NHS Direct, walk-in centres and GP out-of-hours services.

South Yorkshire strategic health authority public health adviser Kevin Smith who compiled the winter pressures 'barometer', said data showed that once NHS Direct became 'saturated', many people automatically turned to A&E, often with inappropriate symptoms.

'They have heard that they will be seen there within four hours, ' he said. 'They know that nobody is turned away, so that becomes the route they choose.'