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Help your local NHS to help you this winter

Wednesday, 09 December, 2015
Help your local NHS to help you this winter

As the NHS across England prepares for another busy winter, health bosses at Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust are reminding people across Northumberland and North Tyneside to use the most appropriate service for the severity of their symptoms.

Following changes in emergency care which took place in June, the trust has this week launched a public awareness campaign in the run up to Christmas to ensure people understand where they should go for help and support from their local NHS.

The campaign will remind people that the Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital in Cramlington is for serious or life threatening emergencies only – most of which arrive by emergency blue light ambulance or via emergency GP admission.

People with less serious problems who need urgent medical attention for non-life threatening conditions, are being reminded about 24-hour urgent care centres which are available at Hexham, North Tyneside and Wansbeck general hospitals where they can walk-in and be seen promptly without having to wait behind serious more emergency cases. 

Northumbria is also urging people to ‘think GP first’ for most medical problems and to use their local pharmacy for advice this winter.  The awareness campaign will feature TV and radio advertising, social media activity, as well as information being distributed to every household across Northumberland and North Tyneside to advise people on the variety of NHS services available this winter. 

Dr Chris Biggin, clinical director of emergency care at Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We always see more people needing help from the NHS during winter and it is really important that people think about how they are using services and know where to go for help. 

“Our new Northumbria hospital is for seriously ill or injured patients which generally arrive by emergency blue light ambulance or by urgent GP referral.  We would urge people who have less serious problems to use our 24 walk-in centres at Hexham, North Tyneside and Wansbeck where our teams can see and treat people much more quickly and without the need to wait behind patients who are quite seriously ill.”

Northumbria Healthcare is also reminding people of the wide range of other NHS services available without the need to access hospital-based care at all. 

Dr Biggin added: “Your GP practice should be the first point of contact for most medical problems and many GPs can offer advice over the phone.  If you are unsure of which service you need, then the NHS 111 service is available 24/7 and will advise you where to go. 

“It is important to remember that many common winter illnesses can be effectively treated by practising good self-care at home or by asking a local pharmacist for advice.  Things like diarrhoea and vomiting, colds and flu are all unpleasant but for the majority of normally fit and healthy people, these illnesses can be treated at home with rest, plenty of fluids and some over the counter medication.

“Please do not attend hospital if you are experiencing symptoms of these common winter viruses as you will only spread germs amongst other more vulnerable and seriously ill patients.”

The new model of emergency care at Northumbria Healthcare is working very well, exceeding the expectations of clinicians who have pioneered the changes.  More patients are being assessed, diagnosed and treated quicker than ever before following their emergency admission to hospital and more are going home sooner and on the road to recovery. 

Prompt decision-making from emergency medicine consultants who are on site 24/7 at the Northumbria, as well as timely results of tests and scans which are now rapidly available, means consultant specialists can start treatment in a matter of hours – something which previously may have taken days, especially over the weekend. 

As part of its public awareness campaign, Northumbria Healthcare is also supporting the national NHS initiative ‘Stay Well This Winter’ which encourages the public to look after themselves well:

  • Make sure you get your flu jab if eligible
  • Keep yourself warm – heat your home to least 18 degrees C (or 65F) if you can
  • If you start to feel unwell, even if it’s just a cough or a cold, then get help from your pharmacist quickly before it gets more serious
  • Make sure you get your prescription medicines before pharmacies close on Christmas Eve
  • Always take your prescribed medicines as directed
  • Look out for other people who may need a bit of extra help over winter.

For further information about how you and your family can stay well this winter visit