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Public urged to use the most appropriate NHS service in 2016

Tuesday, 05 January, 2016
Public urged to use the most appropriate NHS service in 2016

With the NHS across the region experiencing a busy start to 2016, health bosses at Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust are reminding people in Northumberland and North Tyneside to use the most appropriate service for the severity of their symptoms.

Now that GP practices have returned to normal opening hours following Christmas and New Year, the trust is urging people to ‘think GP first’ for most medical problems. GPs can treat the majority of healthcare needs and, throughout the year, should remain residents’ first port of call. If you’re unsure where to go for advice, ring NHS 111 which is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Out-of-hours GP services are also available via NHS 111.

Pharmacies have also returned to normal opening hours and are a good source of advice on a wide range of long-term conditions and common illnesses such as coughs, colds and stomach upsets without needing to see your GP or use other NHS services. No appointment is necessary and many pharmacies have private consultation areas and can advise whether further medical attention is required.

Following changes in emergency care which took place last summer, the trust is also reminding people that the Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital is for serious or life threatening emergencies – 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, should use 24-hour urgent care centres at Hexham, North Tyneside and Wansbeck general hospitals where they will be seen promptly and without having to wait behind serious more emergency cases.

The reminder is part of the trust’s public awareness campaign, which launched in early December and continues throughout the winter, aimed to ensure people understand where they should go for help and support from their local NHS.

Dr Jane Weatherstone, associate medical director primary and community care at Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, said: “As we start 2016, it’s a good opportunity to remind people of the NHS services that are available so that they know where to go to access the right help for the severity of their condition.

“At this time of year we always see more people needing help from the NHS and it’s really important that people use NHS help appropriately and keep emergency services for people who really need them.

“Now that GP practices and pharmacies have returned to normal opening hours, we’d encourage people to make use of these services for most medical problems.

“For urgent conditions which are not life threatening, our urgent care centres at Wansbeck, Hexham and North Tyneside general hospitals are open 24/7. You will be seen much more quickly as you will not have to wait behind patients who are seriously ill.”

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.