Monthly Archives: January 2019

Think you need medical help right now? NHS 111 is now available online

On 23 January, NHS England is introducing a campaign to increase awareness of when to use NHS 111,
either by phone or online.

NHS 111 online uses the same clinical algorithms as the 111 phone service, taking you through questions
about your symptoms to receive tailored advice on what to do next and where to go. You can access NHS
111 online on a smartphone, tablet or computer – 24 hours a day, 7 days a week – and if needed you will be
connected to a nurse, emergency dentist or GP.

This new way to access NHS 111 provides you with another convenient way to get the right help or advice
when you need it. Whether over the phone or online, NHS 111 will ensure that you get the right care, from
the right person, as quickly as possible.

So, if you think you need urgent medical help, call NHS 111 or visit ‘Help Us Help You’ know
what to do.

Public reminded to use 999 and emergency department services wisely

The NHS is urging people to use 999 and Emergency Departments (A&E) wisely as the region’s emergency services report an increase in pressure.

With increasing demand on services, people are asked to consider whether their condition really needs emergency treatment from the ambulance service or their local hospital.

Several hospitals are reporting high demand following the colder weather over the past few days and the North East Ambulance Service (NEAS) is asking the public to think before dialling 999 or attending emergency departments.

The region’s services are all reporting an increase in patients presenting with flu-like symptoms, many of whom could have sought help elsewhere, such as a pharmacist or GP.

Dr Stewart Findlay, Co-Chair of the North East and North Cumbria Urgent and Emergency Care Network, said: “Pressure is growing on our emergency departments and it is crucial that we all use these services wisely.

“Many common health complaints can be treated at home, or with advice from a pharmacist, making sure that busy emergency departments can concentrate on patients with life-threatening conditions.

“If you need urgent medical care and your GP is not available, you can call NHS 111, where health advisors are available 24 hours a day.

“Pharmacists are highly trained and can provide confidential advice conveniently and without an appointment. You can also now access a GP in the evening or at weekends, through local extended access schemes.”

After feeling increased pressure, the ambulance service is putting in additional plans to be able to maintain an effective and safe operational and clinical response for patients.

Victoria Court, NEAS deputy chief operating officer, said: “The demand on our service is currently seven per cent higher compared to the same time last year and we have had an increase of ten per cent in emergency calls for patients with serious symptoms.

“We are also experiencing an increase in people calling with flu-like symptoms, which should be managed at home with over the counter medicines from the local pharmacy.

“Please help us reach those patients who need us most by using 999 for life-threatening emergencies only.”

For pharmacy opening hours and health advice, visit: or

How to look after yourself if you have flu:

  • rest and sleep
  • keep warm
  • take paracetamol or ibuprofen to lower your temperature and treat aches and pains
  • drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration (your pee should be light yellow or clear)

To reduce the risk of spreading flu:

  • wash your hands often with warm water and soap
  • use tissues to trap germs when you cough or sneeze
  • bin used tissues as quickly as possible

Examples of medical emergencies include:

  • Chest pain
  • Breathing difficulties;
  • Unconsciousness;
  • Severe loss of blood;
  • Severe burns;
  • Choking;
  • Fitting;
  • Drowning
  • Severe allergic reactions

Anyone with an urgent need, which is not life-threatening but think they think they might need to see a healthcare professional the same day, can call NHS 111.

Examples of urgent care needs include:

  • Minor head, ear or eye problems
  • Sprains, strains, cuts and bites
  • Children’s minor injuries and ailments
  • Abscesses or wound infections

South Tees Patients Urged To Use NHS Services Wisely as Weekend Cold Snap Bites

Patients in South Tees are being urged to choose the most appropriate level of care for their health needs as the cold snap bites this weekend.

Rather than immediately visiting A&E, there are a number of suitable alternatives for patients across the Middlesbrough and Redcar and Cleveland area.

Many health problems could be better and faster managed by using self-care,primary care services such as GPs, pharmacists or by calling NHS 111.

Dr Janet Walker, Chair at NHS South Tees Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), explained the different options for patients.

She said: “Local pharmacists are highly trained and can offer expert advice on common illnesses such as colds and sore throats.

“For an illness or injury that won’t go away such as a fever or unexplained pain, make an appointment with your GP. Did you know evening and weekend appointments are also available for all patients via the STAR service GP extended hours hubs?  Appointments can be accessed via your own GP practice.

“For sprains and strains, Redcar Minor Injury Unit is open seven days a week from 8am to 9.30pm.

“If you have an urgent medical need which can’t wait, call NHS 111 for free. 111 can be accessed 24 hours a day and staffed by highly trained call handlers supported by clinicians.

“By taking the time to think about the different NHS services available, we can all help everything run smoothly and keep A&E free for emergencies and life-threatening situations.”

Emergency teams at The James Cook University Hospital have experienced an increasing number of inappropriate attendances this winter for complaints such as sore throats, colds and earache.

Siobhan McArdle, Chief Executive of South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said: “In terms of total A&E attendances, we have seen a six per cent increase in post-Christmas attendances against the annual average and activity has stepped up across both The James Cook University Hospital and Friarage Hospital sites.

“We are currently very busy across the organisation, particularly at James Cook, but that is not unusual for this time of year.

“We have, however, also seen a 16 per cent increase in ambulance attendances post-Christmas, with exceptionally high numbers on both the 26 and 30 December. The level and intensity of the care that these patients require, however, has reduced, which suggests that some people could be more appropriately managed by primary care services.

“We have seen a 28 per cent increase in major trauma and resuscitation activity post-Christmas, but this is in line with our expectations as the region’s major trauma centre.

“We are also now seeing a seasonal increase in cases of flu, so please get your flu jab.

“We would appeal to the public to help us reduce the number of inappropriate attendances at A&E and to keep A&E for genuine emergencies.”

Evening and weekend GP appointments can now be booked with STAR GP extended hours hubs via GP surgeries in Middlesbrough, Redcar & Cleveland.

For more information on the different healthcare options available for patients, visit

Healthier You: Diabetes Prevention Programme

NHS England and partners have launched the ‘Healthier You: NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme’ (NDPP) to help people who are at risk of developing Type 2.

In the UK, around 22,000 people with diabetes die early every year and five million people in England are at high risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.

While Type 1 diabetes cannot be prevented and is not linked to lifestyle, Type 2 is largely preventable through lifestyle changes.

The Healthier You: NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme identifies people at high risk and offers them support to make positive changes to their lifestyle to reduce their risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.

If you haven’t been referred to Healthier You but you’re interested in the service, the first step is to check if you’re at high risk. Visit the ‘Know Your Risk’ tool at and find out if you are at risk of getting Type 2.

The programme is a partnership between NHS England, Public Health England and Diabetes UK, working with private providers and local authorities. The service is being delivered in Northern England by Ingeus UK.

If you haven’t been referred to Healthier You but you’re interested in the service, the first step is to check if you’re at high risk. Visit the ‘Know Your Risk’ tool at and find out if you are at risk of getting Type 2.

For more information visit: or contact your GP Practice

A few seconds of discomfort could save your life!

I talked last week about health lifestyle choices and trying to prevent illness happening. This  week I have received my invitation for cervical screening – or ‘smear test’ .

Now this is a good example of prevention. For us ladies the cervix is the neck of the womb and having some cells taken from there by the use of a small brush can detect any early signs of cell changes that could if left unchecked possibly develop into cancer.

The test is not looking for cancer, it’s looking for changes that can be treated to stop cancer developing. You are invited for testing every 3 years between 25 and 49 and then once every 5 years from 50 to 64 years.

I don’t know anyone that enjoys going for the test, but I’ll be booking my appointment to have it done. If I’m honest the letter and book I  received from the screening programme was quite long and detailed, sometimes I  wonder if a message along the lines of ‘get the test done; a few seconds of discomfort could save your life’  would encourage some ladies to make the appointment  and have it done.

Across South Tees surgeries are trying many different ways to make it easier for women to have the test, you can ask your GP surgery about having it taken in the extended hours GP hubs if family or work commitments mean this could be easier for you.

New Year resolution

As  we are into the first week of the New Year how are you all doing with any New Year’s resolutions?  I can honestly say that I have never really been one for holding with this tradition, but this year I have realised that approaching 50 I  really  do need to make sure I’m taking health lifestyle choices, walking rather than taking the car, using the stairs and not the lift, getting at least my 5 a day fruit and vegetables, and stopping dusting  my exercise bike seat  because I’ll have been using it rather than having to clean it!

I’ve got friends and colleagues doing dry January – if this is you too- good luck, if you think you could be drinking too much you probably are, especially as now the advice  is that there is not  a safe amount of alcohol to drink, so all reductions would be beneficial.. If you are trying to stop smoking – never too late to stop or to try again to stop and lots of help and support available- visit For smoking cessation.  Whatever you have thought about doing to look after yourself the NHS would encourage you to give it your best shot as preventing illness is what we should all be doing more of.