Reminder to use the right service

Dr Chris Biggin, clinical director of emergency care.

Dr Chris Biggin, clinical director of emergency care.

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Health bosses are reminding people to use the most appropriate service for their symptoms this winter.

Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust has launched an awareness campaign in the run up to Christmas to ensure people know where they should go for help and support from their NHS.

The Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital is for serious or life threatening emergencies while those with less serious problems who need urgent medical attention can go to the 24-hour urgent care centre at North Tyneside General Hospital.

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

“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.”

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 www.nhs.uk/staywell