NHS East Lancashire and NHS Blackburn with Darwen Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGS) along with East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust are reminding local residents that a range of NHS services are available in helping to stay well this winter.
The winter period is traditionally the busiest time of the year for the NHS especially for the emergency departments.
Many people who attend the emergency departments could be better treated elsewhere. We know people are often feeling poorly when they come to the hospital but there are other places where they can get help and often don’t know. Making an avoidable visit to the emergency department takes hospital teams away from their role which is to help those with life threatening situations. This includes conditions such as loss of consciousness; persistent, severe chest pain; breathing difficulties and severe bleeding that cannot be stopped.
Dr David White, Clinical Lead at the CCGs, said: “Many of the common winter ailments and illnesses people come down with at this time of year can be easily treated at home or with advice from a pharmacist without the need to see a doctor or nurse.
“Colds, sore throats, coughs, upset stomachs, aches and pains can all be treated at home with painkillers, rest and plenty of fluids. Self-care should often be the first port of call in these instances, but help and advice for such illnesses can be sought from elsewhere, should people require it. This helps reduce the spread of winter viruses to other vulnerable patients in NHS waiting rooms as well as keeping appointments available for people who have serious health conditions that must see a doctor or nurse.
“The growing demand on our emergency departments is increasingly putting added pressure on the service. For this reason, it is essential for everyone to think carefully about which NHS service is the right for them. There are often better alternatives than sitting in urgent care for hours on end. These alternatives can help people get the right treatment more easily and quicker.
“We obviously aren’t telling people who are in need of urgent medical attention not to attend our emergency departments, but are asking people to consider whether they actually do need to go there or could they be seen and treated elsewhere?
“Pharmacists and the NHS website are all excellent alternatives that people can contact should they need any advice on things such as coughs, colds, vomiting and minor ailments. Pharmacists are experts in medicine and can offer expert help with common complaints and advise when symptoms are more serious that a GP visit maybe necessary.”
In addition, the NHS 111 service is a free-to-call non-emergency medical helpline which offers health advice and information. People may wish to use this as the first point of contact with NHS services. The 111 adviser will be able to:
- advise what medical help you need
- tell you where you need to go to get this medical help
- transfer your call to the service you need, or book an appointment for you with the GP Out of Hours service if necessary
Patients can now also get medical help or advice from 111 online using their smartphone, laptop or other digital device. 111 online can be accessed at https://111.nhs.uk/
For more information visit:www.nhs.uk