With Christmas just around the corner, health experts in Southport and Formby are urging local patients to prepare for minor illnesses and to consider how they use 999 and A&E over the festive period for them and their families.
As many prepare to tuck into turkey, celebrate with friends and family or enjoy a festive night out, the health professionals at NHS Southport and Formby Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) are reminding residents to think before dialling 999 or visiting accident and emergency departments over the bank holidays. They are also reminding them to examine their options should they become ill over the festive period and to prepare for minor illnesses by stocking up on over the counter medication.
The Examine your Options campaign aims to give people information so that they know where to go to in the first instance, to get fast, expert advice when they need it and how to help themselves and their families if they have a common illness or ailment – and help ease the pressure on A&E and 999 services at the same time.
It also reinforces the message that A&E and 999 services are for serious illnesses and life-threatening injuries only.
Dr Rob Caudwell, local GP and NHS Southport and Formby CCG chair said ““The best advice that I can offer is to be prepared, if you are entitled to a free flu vaccination then make sure you get it, visit your pharmacist to ensure that you have the right at home medication and order your repeat prescriptions through your GP practice well before the bank holiday rush.
“It’s also really important to make sure that we look out for not only family and friends, but also for any elderly neighbours as well, those who may struggle to get out of the house this time of the year, to ensure that they have everything that they need.”
With the increasing pressure on emergency services over the busy Christmas and New Year period, we are stressing the importance of ensuring A&E and the 999 number are kept free for genuine medical emergencies.
Dr Caudwell continues: “It is vital to remember that the ambulance service and A&E should not be used as an alternative to your GP if your surgery is closed. If you or your children require medical assistance outside of normal surgery hours this bank holiday, patients in Southport and Formby have access to a wide range of alternative health services available including GP out-of-hours services and pharmacists who are qualified to offer advice and treat common, everyday illnesses quickly and conveniently.”
Dr Dave Snow, associate medical director for urgent care at Southport and Ormskirk Hospital NHS Trust, said: “We are not saying don’t use A&E. We are saying use A&E wisely.
“Many people who arrive at A&E, particularly by ambulance following a 999 call, do need hospital care and will be seen immediately. However, there are others whose care needs could be met just as well by their GP, a pharmacist or by treating the symptoms themselves.
“A&E is for people facing life-threatening and serious emergencies such as serious accidents, breathing problems, heart attacks and strokes. Please keep our staff free for them.”
Feeling Unwell? – Examine Your Options
Across the area there are a range of health services to support people if they feel unwell or have any health concerns. There are services which you may be unfamiliar with, but could be more appropriate and convenient for you depending on your specific issue.
For minor ailments and injuries your best route to recover is likely to be self-care. There are a variety of services that can support you to do this:
Your local pharmacy can offer free, confidential and expert advice on a range of health issues for those who need it. They can help you prepare for many of the common illnesses like coughs and colds.
For your pharmacy opening times over Christmas and New Year please click here www.southportandformbyccg.nhs.uk/your-health-and-services/pharmacy-opening-times-for-christmas-period
You can find a wealth of trusted advice about hundreds of health conditions and details of GPs, pharmacies and dentists in your local area by visiting the NHS.uk website: http://www.nhs.uk. It also includes a symptom checker.
When you need medical help or advice fast, but it is not a 999 emergency, you can also call the NHS 111 service. NHS 111 is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and calls are free from mobiles and landlines.
If you need medical care for illnesses you cannot treat yourself, then your GP should be your next port of call.
Your Local GP
Your GP should be your first point of contact for non-emergency illnesses you can’t treat yourself. Your GP is available from 8.00am to 6.30pm weekdays.
If you don’t have a GP, you can register with your local surgery. If you’re not sure where this is, you can find out at: http://www.nhs.uk or call 0300 77 77 007.
Patients can also manage their health needs at home using Patient Access which is available on desktop or as a free app where you can arrange appointments, order repeat medications and update your personal details.*
GP Out of Hours Service
If your local surgery is closed, you can still see a GP with the GP out-of-hours service; just call 111 and you can speak to a local GP over the phone or face to face if necessary.
It is very likely that you and your family will be seen and treated more quickly using the out-of-hours service than if you were waiting to see a doctor in A&E, especially at busy times.
For more information please visit www.examineyouroptions.info
*please note that some practices may use a slightly different system to patient access so it is worth asking your GP practice for more information