With unprecedented numbers of people accessing hospital services at this busy time, the local NHS is urging everyone to make the best use of other health services and choose the right one for their illness or injury.
Dr Steve Ollerton, local GP and Clinical Leader of NHS Greater Huddersfield CCG said:
“Winter is always a busy time for the NHS, so we’re asking people to use services appropriately and remember that most medical conditions do not need emergency care. Each year, millions of people visit A&E with self-treatable conditions such as colds, flu and stomach bugs, putting the NHS under unnecessary strain. This means less time for people with life threatening conditions who vitally need emergency care.”
Dr David Kelly, Chair of NHS North Kirklees CCG added:
“There are many different ways that people can help themselves to get the right treatment this winter. When people use health services appropriately, it means that the ambulance service and A&E departments are then able to deal with serious conditions more quickly and effectively. Please think twice before visiting A&E or dialling 999 and consider whether one of the following routes would be better suited to your needs.”
Coughs, colds, sore throats and other minor ailment can be treated at home with a well-stocked medicine cabinet that includes pain relief medication, cold relief products and a thermometer to check for fever. If you’re unfortunate enough to catch the winter vomiting bug, ‘Norovirus’, this can also be treated at home, helping to reduce the risk of it spreading to others too. You’ll need to drink plenty of fluids, take paracetamol for any fever or aches and pains, eat plain foods (if you feel like eating) and get plenty of rest.
Winter ailments and stomach bugs usually clear up by themselves in a few days but you should seek medical help if your symptoms are continuing to get worse.
For information and advice about Norovirus, and hundreds of other health conditions, take a look at NHS Choices, the UK’s biggest health website.
Visit your local pharmacy
Your local pharmacist can offer expert advice on common illnesses and the best medicines to treat them. At the first sign of a cough or a cold, it’s a good idea to get help from your pharmacist before it gets more serious. This is particularly important for people with long-term health conditions because cold weather can make some health problems far worse. Here’s more information about how your pharmacist can help and some of the ailments your pharmacist can help with.
Your local GP surgery will be offering more urgent appointments at this time of year and don’t forget ‘out of hours’ GP appointments are available, if necessary, via 111. Click here to find out more. GPs are best used if you become ill when you have a complex medical condition, if you are frail or elderly or if you are taking lots of medications. Please don’t use GPs for simple coughs and colds.
NHS 111 is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and calls are free from landlines and mobile phones. Call 111 if you need medical help fast but it’s not a 999 emergency. A trained advisor, supported by healthcare professionals, will ask you a series of questions to assess your symptoms. They will help you access the local service that can help you best, which could be an out-of-hours appointment with a local GP. Here’s more information about NHS 111.
Accident and Emergency (A&E) and 999
People should only use A&E or dial 999 in critical or life-threatening situations that require immediate medical attention, such as loss of consciousness, acute confused state and fits that are not stopping, severe chest pain, breathing difficulties, bleeding that cannot be stopped, severe allergic reactions or severe burns or scalds. There’s more information about A&E services here.
In the case of suspected heart attack or stroke call 999 immediately. Every second counts with these conditions.
Making the right choice about which health service to choose benefits patients who get the appropriate level of care they need, when they need it. It also benefits healthcare professional in making sure people receive the right care, particularly at this time of year when demand on emergency services increases dramatically.