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 https://www.southteesccg.nhs.uk/are-you-accessing-the-appropriate-level-of-care/