OLIVIA Banton is just six years old – but she’s become a video star to help the NHS in Gwent spread a vital message about the appropriate use of A&E services.
As the face of a new 90-second film called Why A&E is Such a Special Place, Olivia, from Newport, went on location in the Royal Gwent Hospital’s busy accident and emergency department.
Her straight-to-camera narration explains the importance of using A&E only for serious and life-threatening conditions, and she asks people to contact their GP, pharmacy, or NHS Direct Wales for minor ailments and non-life-threatening problems.
The video was shot by Scott Carey, who is part of the public health team at Aneurin Bevan University Health Board, and who previously made a light-hearted silent short film to promote the smoking ban in hospital grounds.
Despite not having acted before, Olivia was unfazed by the camera, boom microphone, and the need to deliver a message that health bosses see as vital to helping the public understand the importance of only using A&E when it is absolutely necessary.
“I enjoyed doing the film and I can’t wait for my teacher and all my friends to see it,” said Olivia, a pupil at St Julians Primary School.
“It was really busy in the hospital, so we had to try and keep out of the way. They used a big fluffy microphone on a stick which kept bumping into my head and making me laugh.
“It took a long time, but it was fun.”
Lisa Banton, Olivia’s mum, who works for the health board, said she had been talking to her daughter for a few weeks beforehand about the hospital and A&E and why it is important to use it properly.
“She’s only six, so it was important she had an idea about what we were asking her to talk about. But she was really up for it and she did really well,” she said.
A&E continues to be used as a venue of first resort by too many patients whose illness or injury could best be treated elsewhere, for instance at a minor injuries unit, through their GP, or self-treated.
Campaigns like Choose Well Wales (www.choosewellwales.org.uk) continue to provide advice on when and when not to use A&E, and Gwent’s health board has previously run its own Save A&E For When You Need It information campaign.
But across Wales, it is estimated that around 40 per cent of A&E attendees could still be best treated by other means, with inappropriate attendances continuing to put unnecessary strain on already overstretched resources, services and staff, resulting in longer waits for patients.