Residents across East Lancashire are being urged to use emergency services appropriately this winter.
Many people attend urgent services when it is unnecessary and they could be better treated elsewhere, which during the winter season can put extra demands on already pressured emergency departments.
Doctors from NHS East Lancashire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and NHS Blackburn with Darwen CCG are asking local residents to Think! before attending their nearest emergency department or urgent care centre. If someone is seriously ill or injured, and their life is potentially at risk, 999 should be called immediately.
An emergency is a critical or a life-threatening situation, such as:
- Suspected heart attack
- Chest pain
- Heavy blood loss
- Suspected broken bones
- Deep wounds such as stab wounds
- Severe breathing difficulties
- Head injuries
Dr Chris Clayton, Clinical Chief Officer at NHS Blackburn with Darwen CCG, said: “Coughs colds, sore throats, vomiting and other minor ailments such as sprains, do not necessarily require a trip to a local urgent care centre. Self-care could 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.
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.”
Alternatively the NHS 111 service is a free-to-call non-emergency medical helpline offering health advice and information service which people may wish to use as the first point of contact with NHS services. The 111 adviser will be able to:
- decide 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, if possible
Simply dial 111 at any time day or night or visit NHS 111 at www.nhs.uk/111
Dr Mike Ions, Chief Clinical Officer at NHS East Lancashire CCG added: “During winter our emergency departments are under increased pressure, and even more so over the festive period. This means it is essential that the public think carefully before visiting emergency departments. There are often better alternatives which 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 ask people to consider whether they actually need to go or could be seen and treated elsewhere.
“Pharmacists and the NHS 111 service are excellent alternatives that people can contact should they need any advice on things such as coughs, colds, vomiting and minor ailments.”