PRESS RELEASE: Thursday 4 December 2014

KEEP A&E AND 999 FOR MEDICAL EMERGENCIES, NHS REMINDS PATIENTS IN WILTSHIRE

GPs from NHS Wiltshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) re urging people to make sure they choose the most appropriate care for their ailments this winter.

Forecast colder weather this week indicates that winter has arrived, bringing with it increased demand on NHS services particularly from elderly and vulnerable patients.

Dr Peter Jenkins, GP Medical Adviser for Wiltshire CCG, said: “Even without severe weather – such as snow or prolonged sub-zero temperatures – the arrival of winter invariably means the NHS as a whole faces considerable challenges in dealing with greater numbers of patients.

“The NHS nationally and locally plans thoroughly for that increased demand, but we also need help from people in finding the most appropriate way to treat their ailments.”

Colder weather and viruses lead to an increase in the number of people – particularly those with a respiratory condition – being admitted to hospital as an emergency.

The CCG has therefore produced the following list of top tips to help people plan and ensure they are able to receive the most appropriate and timely treatment during winter:

  • Ensure you have sufficient over-the-counter medicines to treat minor ailments such as coughs, colds, cuts and scratches. The NHS Choices website has further information about sensible items to keep in your medicine cabinet at home.
  • If you feel unwell, particularly if you are elderly, seeking early advice from your GP or pharmacist could prevent a minor ailment becoming more serious. The NHS Feeling Under the Weather? campaign is aimed at people over 60 – or anyone aged over 45 looking after elderly relatives or neighbours – encouraging them to get early health advice.
  • If you have an ongoing medical condition requiring repeat prescriptions, ensure you have sufficient supplies to avoid running out when you GP surgeries is closed or over the Christmas holiday period.
  • Your local pharmacist is a good source of information, advice and treatment for a wide range of minor ailments.
  • For urgent medical needs that are not emergencies, NHS 111 is a free national phone number able to provide advice at any time on where and how to receive the most appropriate treatment.
  • This year’s NHS Flu campaign is encouraging all those who are eligible for the free flu vaccination to take up the offer. It is targeted at those with long-term health conditions, pregnant women and parents of children aged 2-4. Wiltshire CCG is supporting the campaign by providing background advice and guidance on who is eligible for a free flu jab and the important of getting one.
  • Keep a look-out for elderly or vulnerable neighbours to ensure they are staying safe and well.
  • If you have any symptoms of vomiting or diarrhoea, stay away from hospitals – including visiting friends or relatives. Norovirus, often called the winter vomiting bug, is highly contagious and can spread quickly in hospitals.
  • Don’t go to a hospital A&E department or dial 999 for an ambulance unless it is for a serious or life-threatening emergency.

“Clearly there are times when attending A&E or dialling 999 is the right course of action. However, using these services for less serious conditions does not mean a patient will receive quicker treatment, and may result in a delay for someone else whose condition is serious or even life-threatening,” said Dr Jenkins.

“Taking a few easy and sensible precautions now, along with using the best way to receive treatment if needed, can help ensure the NHS continues to provide high-quality, appropriate care for everyone needing it this winter.”

 

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