People in the North East and Cumbria are being encouraged to take care of themselves as temperatures drop and pressure on the NHS increases.
More than three and a half million people across the country visit A&E departments every year for self-treatable conditions, such as stomach complaints, colds, flu and colic.
Good self-care is about keeping fit and healthy and ensuring medicine cabinets and first aid kits are well stocked. Prescriptions should also be collected in advance of bank holidays over the winter period.
In addition, before visiting A&E, people are being asked to consider whether there is a service better suited to their health needs, such as seeing their GP or a local pharmacist, or calling NHS 111.
NHS England’s Medical Director for Cumbria and the North East, Professor Chris Gray, said, “Our NHS staff work extremely hard around the clock to provide the best possible care for people. At this time of year they are under significant pressure. We all have a responsibility to use our NHS services wisely and to help ensure that those who really need urgent and emergency care in A&E departments can access that care.
“Pharmacists, for example, are highly qualified health care professionals who offer expert, confidential advice and treatment for minor health problems. Many of our pharmacies are in accessible locations, such as supermarkets and are open during evenings and over weekends. Importantly, most have a confidential room where people can discuss their medical needs in private.”
NHS Choices website is a trusted source of health related advice and information. Services can be ‘looked up’ by simply selecting the service needed and doing a postcode search.
Advice for parents and carers is also available on the free NHS child health app. The app has been developed by doctors, health visitors and pharmacists and can be downloaded from Google Play or Apple’s App Store.
Dr Neil O’Brien, Chief Clinical Officer at NHS North Durham CCG, said, “Self-care is about understanding when you can look after yourself, when a pharmacist can help and when to get advice from your GP or another health professional.
“We know how worrying it can be when a child isn’t well, especially when they are very young. The child health app is an excellent source of information and advice at peoples’ fingertips. It can help you recognise when your child is ill and gives guidance on when and where to seek further treatment. I encourage parents and carers to download the app today – you never know when you might need it!
“I urge people to please take time to think about how you can look after yourself this winter and if you do need health care, to consider which service is best suited to your health need. We can all do our bit to help relieve the pressure on A&E.”
The child health app is part of the NHS awareness and education ‘plasticine people’ campaign, which has been launched this week, in Cumbria and the North East, to help influence the decisions people make about which health service to use and to improve patient flow and experience across the health system in the region.